Contests : War Poetry Contest : Past Winners : 2010 : Jenny Overman
In the morning I observe his bare rabbinic
belly contemplate a purple yoga mat.
He is in downward dog,
checking email on his laptop.
At 11 am we pack:
hummus, baba ganoush, feta, pita,
tomatoes, pickles and dolmas
into plastic bags for the Dead Sea picnic.
My lover and I bus it from Jerusalem,
all local stops.
He speaks in Heb-rish on his cell phone,
business calls about peace.
Below sea level,
dense molasses air
military check points.
Floating in God's bath tub
under a persistent Mediterranean sun.
He tells me about war:
the time he met a wanna-be suicide bomber,
Jihad training camps,
literal interpretations of the Torah.
I can't help but smile,
Why is history so damn fascinating?
I pull his weightless body towards me
for a salty kiss.
Tell me more,
more about the Jews and the Palestinians, I say.
I poke at his plump torso with the soles of my feet.
Bobbing, tugging at each otherís bodies
buoys suspended by salt water,
nowhere to go.
Tell me more.
Jews on the left, Jews on the right,
hats, no hats
prayer in Jerusalem or
party in Tel Aviv?
Salt crystals sun themselves on the water's edge,
bunched-up like leftover snow.
Almost cut my hand on one
as I crawl out on all fours away from Jordan,
my blond hair weighed down by minerals.
At the mud pool I yell at him
not to drop my point and shoot.
He is clumsy and graceless.
I breast stroke through fresh army green water,
mud caressing my body like earth-silk.
Satin, creamy, liquid dirt
the land of minerals and heaven
murder and honey.
I rub my breasts, thighs,
feet, back, and belly
against the mud wall.
This is the only time I've ever made love to the earth.
I wait eyes closed, listening for a whistle:
my lover and I meet in the center of the pool
caking each other with handfuls of earth.
And for a moment I know god really does exist,
even though we swim so close to war.
This poem was a finalist in the 2010 War Poetry Contest sponsored by Winning Writers. Copyright is reserved to the author.
About Jenny Overman
Jenny Overman's work reflects her commitment to social justice issues, race, class and Judaism. She is a part of Writing on Whiteness, a collective of writers. A poet and performer, Jenny was a participant in The Squaw Valley summer writing program. She is the author of I'm so White in Some Ways, a book of poetry. A native New Yorker, Jenny performs regularly in the San Francisco Bay Area where she currently resides. Jenny recently returned from a two-week residency in Toronto, where she began a series of poems about family and marriage. You can find out more about Jenny and her work at: www.jennyoverman.com.