Monday’s Verse 8/16/2016

Dear All,

I have stumbled across the Bronte sisters of the modern Arab world. Annemarie and Emily Jacir are Palestinian from Bethlehem and raised in Saudi Arabia . They have become forces to contend with in the art world. Emily uses film, photography, installation, performance, video, writing and sound in her works. Below is a mural in New York by Emily. It led me to these dynamic sisters. The mural represents ten thousands of books stolen from Palestinians in 1948 by the Israeli government. This was a historical detail I was unaware of until tI saw the mural.

Annemarie, the youngest of the two sisters, is primarily a filmmaker. Her work has been shown at Cannes as well as other film festivals around the world. She is also a published poet. Her work explores the politics of Palestinian oppression and its impact on the individual. She lives in Jordan and since 2008 has been banned from reentering Israel.

The poem below by Annemarie Jacir is the story of a woman trying to hold onto to a culture in peril. It is her attempt to tighten her grip around history, language, place, ritual and even delicacies of her people. This is the struggle of Diasporan groups. In the end, the struggle is lost.

Pistachio Ice Cream

They told me the

Arabs named the stars

algol, sirius, aldebaran…

My mother’s olive-shaped eyes

sandaled feet

led me into centuries

of vast empires

forgotten treasures

Now, only ruins remain.

This was the summer

i bathed in olive oil

and sat on the sidewalks

of Jerusalem eating

pistachio ice-cream

with the old man

whose ancient face tried

to explain to me that we fought

with our hearts and

not our heads—therefore

we would never win.

i am dead to my tribe

i will never learn all its salty secrets

So tonight I want to sleep

with vega, deneb, altair…

because they will disappear

with the morning sun,

and only ruins remain.

— Annemarie Jacir, Palestinian Poet

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