4 poems


In Gaza

breast milk for two years

a well-spaced brother

organic baby food

furniture safety-checked

growth carefully plotted

then a well-chosen small school

private lessons

perhaps helmets even for sledding

certainly for riding, figure skating


         in Gaza

         small figures bundled in white

         some still bleeding

after the news I check them in their beds

all's well, it's still

my children against their's


Stream of Israel

It's the next year in Jerusalem.

We've agreed to meet: you from Rumania, me from Canada;

a recovering Christian, a non-observing Jew.

Marriages and children aborted, we visit

both the burial places of Mary, wonder at her choices.

In a thin-sided, clanking little car

we take frozen water bottles and a few clothes

into the desert where anything can happen:

where a one-handed, born-again sky-diver

might land and be known to us as Charlie;

where waiting to pick him up might be Captain Fuad,

late of the Lebanese army, working as a journalist.

So when we settle for lunch on a remote dusty terrace

or rush to supper in a narrow café, the mix is vital:

helicopter aerial photography, fishing with dynamite,

art and music desperate for North American representation.

Driving to the coast we thumb our noses at Caesar,

at the Crusaders, their walls, aquaducts, arenas;

instead slide into a dark old town and a dirty sea.

A cold shower that night probably saves my life.

Up to Lebanon and back: border guards, kibbutzim, oranges,

a city on a mountain. At the top you offer me

exactly nothing but the view. I take it and I leave it,

only keep three sandy potsherds picked from the rubble

of the walls of the City of David -

one for Muslim, one for Christian, one for Jew.


Ethnic cleansing

I don't want to be you or them.

They are the ones who come

             at night

   with or without hoods

depending on

        which minister sends them

depending on

        where you were born

        or your parents

        or where you are standing now.

We are the ones who let it happen

  again and again and again

and you are me sometimes

  and sometimes I am them.



My shorts

really were too short

for walking up on Jerusalem's walls

I received many offers, the most civilized being

how many camels

my companion would take for me

After a few days

I switched to skirts

which, however sheer, elicited no comments

I broke other rules

drank from a public water fountain

bought falafel from a man in the street

Became quite ill

my peaceful Canadian intestinal fauna

struggling with that of Arab and Jew

Sat down with both

and with Christians at their tables

an easy thing to do when you are just visiting

That peaceful summer

the only thing

the one thing that caught my notice

They checked my purse

when I entered the stores

shoplifting being the least of their worries

Louise Carson is published in Jones Av., Cahoots, Freefall, Poetry-Quebec, Other Voices and poetsagainstwar.ca with work upcoming in Event, Our Times and The Nashwaak Review.