sand in eyes. hasn’t left for days. could weep; my eyes would drip cement
empty house, empty house, house with family
after a while, gun strapped to my back, it feels depressingly familiar.
but yet I am glad to be here, for my country – for my people.
write home to Mother, tell her nothing of importance,
except that I love her and will see her soon.
probably a lie.
desert’s different here.
“we are an army to which morals and high ethical standards are paramount.”
we are also hungry.
Shahad is laughing, dancing with her new Dolly, when gravel munches and the soldiers fire into the air outside. shh, Father says. get down.
come out, they say.
come out with your hands over your head, they shout in hebrew.
father walks to the door, wallet in hand. grabs his identification papers. not fast enough. glass rains down, Ali is still standing up. Ali rains down, rains red.
Shahad runs. Ali, twin brother. Ali turns Dolly’s face red red red. Ali is yelling. Ahmed is yelling too, in hebrew. children, he screams. Shahad turns around, runs to father, to the door, away from the window. frightens her. glass falling.
the man at the door has something in his hand.
Shahad clings to father’s leg. Dolly is forgotten. She hangs at Shahad’s side, half her face brown, half red. then, gunshot sound and Dolly is on the floor. Shahad screams.
The man at the door drops to his knees. Suddenly.
Shahad is screaming shaking crying. Dolly is on the floor, cotton blowing in the wind, shot from her hand. Father feels her with his hands: arms legs torso hair face eyes. all there. thank god.
go to your mother, he whispers. shahad is screaming shaking crying so father carries her to behind the armchair where her mother weeps with joy and sorrow for her twin girl and her twin boy. Father goes to the door again.
I’ve got my ID, he shouts.
Mother touches Shahad’s eyes legs torso hair face arms. Ahmed has stopped yelling and now he peeks over the windowsill. Everyone’s cut with glass but all right, except Shahad who is shaking and Ali, who is pale on the ground. Ali, twin brother.
The man comes out of the door, something in his hands.
The man is speaking Hebrew with an accent, fast Hebrew, with an accent I can’t understand.
Father is yelling, he’s yelling at the soldiers. You killed my boy, he says. You killed my Ali. He says it in Hebrew, then in Arabic, then switches back to Hebrew. Ahmed speaks better Hebrew than Father, but Mother says not to go outside.
The man walking up to us, we are so close we can see the tears streaming from his eyes, so close he could spit on us.
Yosef doesn’t like yelling.
And Father falls. He trips on a stone, the one he told Ali to move out of the path last week.
Yosef is surprised. His rifle speaks on its own.