Breaking the Curfew, Churchill’s Contrition
BREAKING THE CURFEW
In the market of Jenin, bread is soggy with their blood—
Children so small they fluttered through tents of honey and fruit.
Hidden in caves a week, they were completely dissolute
with sunlight and the breeze of the dessert. Until a scud
Of gas and the carnivorous bullets of machine guns
scattered and drove them again to their holes, all but a few.
Henan, why didn't you grab what you could and rendezvous
in some subterranean oasis with your loved ones?
Now you lie here among the other shattered vessels,
holding your arms around a brown loaf. No one wrestles
it from you. None of your friends. Their arms are full and still too.
Henan, never in your life have you held so much bread.
May all the makers of all the wars take a piece from your dead
hands, sop it in your blood and say: how sweet is war and true.
Bethlehem, now I hear you weeping
in the Church of the Nativity:
the steeple gunfire rules the city
and mocks the soft sound of bells keeping
The holy hours. If such terror can
invade this sacred darkness where light
supposedly was born, then no might
may resist it, no fortress of man.
And yet it was my own endeavor,
justice, that made this land forever
a place of evisceration.
Bethlehem, you have a bloody scent.
Oh little town, should I now repent
my careful theft to build a nation?