My neighbor is going to the zoo
With her three grandchildren:
Mussa, who was born in Haifa
Of a Palestinian father and an Israeli mother,
Sees himself as the never-grown-up Peter Pan-
Sailing from the island of Neverland
With one eye green, one eye blue:
Gemini, a twin, who was born in America
And named after his father’s lost friend,
Has a moonlight face and a red robe
And sees himself as Casper, the friendly ghost
Returning from the land of martyrs;
And Zahra, who is one minute younger than her brother,
Has soft, golden hair
And sees herself as Alice from Wonderland
Looking for her lost rabbit everywhere.
They are going to the zoo
To visit the crocodiles of the Nile river
Who, everyday after lunch
Lay back on the pebbly shores
And leave their mouths open for hours
So their companion birds can clean
Their sharp teeth and gums,
And when they want to return to the water
The crocodiles gently close their mouths
Their tooth-brushing plovers.
Having no faith in earthly paradise
And being accustomed to war and bloodshed
I panic from so much co-existence in nature
And unwillingly shout:
My neighbor! My fanciful neighbor!
Keep your grandchildren around your skirt
Lest the warring crocodiles
Roll their armored tanks
And the Iron-winged birds
Drop clusters of bombs
Over their heads.
August 18, 2009
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