Poetry

Baffled in Ashdod, Blind in Gaza

From the March 2012 magazine
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E.A.: former Israeli Defence Forces soldier who, in August 2010, posted photos of herself smiling beside bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners. She labelled her Facebook album “The army… best time of my life.”

Eden
Abergil,
Eden of Ashdod, you only did
what any young recruit might do—
what I might have done myself, a little scared, a little
stoned (on your own strength, Eden,
as if each beautiful bullet you packed
were a pill—designer hybrid
of Percocet and blow, to anneal you against all
that’s frail and slow, that’s bound,
beyond help)—
And so these Facebook pix
and that bit of bad press (don’t worry, Eden, the news—
save on Al Jazeera and in the tabloids of Tehran—
has already moved on).
You don’t get it. You protest. Your little shoot
killed no one! So, then, why are the great Jews—
the poets and performers, the scientists, inventors,
philosophers, reformers—those truest
People of the Book—all weeping quietly
in their tombs: Paul Celan,
Hannah Arendt, almond-bitter Mandel-
stam, Marx and Einstein, all of them sad
insomniacs of the hinterlife, tallowing
hours away in the earth
to understand this “Facebook,” as well as the smirk
this now-world wears: failed future that won’t leave them to sleep,
not even the adamant suicides—Benjamin, Levi, Celan—
especially not the suicides.
And you yourself sit baffled in Ashdod,
Eden, wondering why no one did
quite catch the joke—meantime the army’s marketing folks
Photoshop your face to a blur, but
too late, you’re famous! Your poses
pathogenic, spreading via tweets and texts, and sickening…
sickening no one at all—we’ve all gone immune—all
but the hopeful dead, though of course
they’re dead and can’t die again
of our indignities.
Eden,
Eden of ash, your grand-
parents were the Nazi War—Eden
of Ashdod, der Tod
is still in the story, the frontier
between millennia didn’t keep it out,
the Human Future didn’t phase it out,
now it’s posted, grinning, on your wall.

Let every wall wail.

Recommended Links

Baffled in Ashdod, Blind in Gaza by Steven Heighton · March 2012

Steven Heighton recently added Workbook: Memos and Dispatches on Writing to his many works of fiction and poetry.

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