Do you remember
When we first played together?
When you first came to our land?
We welcomed you
We lived in peace.
We played together
We grew up together
We tilled the soil and shared our food.
We sang our songs.
Three thousand years we lived not as neighbors
But as brothers who sang to a different tune.
And then your foreign cousin came to stay.
He bullied your friends
He demanded our land.
He said he was staying because he had been picked on at home.
So he picked on us.
Then he said that he must be on our land because God told him it was so.
I told him that God spoke to me too
But this was news to me – please explain.
Your cousin said it was not necessary to tell me more
Because he was Chosen
And that was enough.
So I gently asked him to please leave now
Because I am at peace with my God and do not want to debate you
Or invite you back to force your God on me.
He said no. I am Chosen and that is that.
Please go now, I replied, and stay with your cousins.
There aren’t many left, he replied, so what does it matter?
Politely I begged of him, please leave my land.
I think I will stay forever, he said,
They don’t want me anywhere else.
I wonder why, I thought.
I extended my hand and I gave him my bread.
He took it and kicked sand in my face.
I asked you, my lifelong friend, why your cousin was behaving so badly
No one likes him, you explained.
He is staying here now.
Will he live with you, was my question to you,
And you said that you hoped not, because your God is loving
Your cousin is demanding.
He is political.
He inflicts pain.
Your cousin took my bread and hurt me, I said.
He will be back for more.
But I did not ask him.
Ah, you told me, but he thinks he has the Right of Return.
He can bring his brothers and take your bread at will.
And your land.
And your crops.
And your water.
The grey cloud above became heavy and black
And lightning struck down
And marked a line in the sand
Between you, my lifelong friend, and me.
Your cousin laughed in the distance.
He came back.
And he took my land, my crops, and my water.
Then he took my home.
And then he tried to take my dignity.
He demanded I leave
Because he was growing fatter and needed more room
I had nowhere to go.
I did not want to live with my aunts and uncles
As they liked different songs and ate different foods
Their flowers were of a different perfume
And they had their own children.
I asked the Wise Men and Elders to decide.
They told me to be a good son, and share.
God will reward.
So I went back
To the big foreign boy
Asked for my land back
And said we should share the crops, the water, the food.
But he kicked me again
And curled his angry fist in to a ball
And pushed it in to my face.
So I picked up a stick.
When I was down, he kicked me.
So I picked up a stone.
He ran away.
The next day he returned with a gun
So I picked up a rock.
He ran away.
Then he returned with his friends
Who carried missiles upon their shoulders.
So I found a gun.
They ran away in tears and cried to their Elders, their aunts, their uncles.
He said that I hated him and told him to fall in to the sea.
I went to my Elders and said
Why does he hate me?
Why does he think I want him to drown in the sea?
I shared my bread with him
I just want him to move away from my house.
The Elders talked and agreed that
The big foreign boy must take his foot
Off my land now
And they left.
But your cousin did not.
He put both feet on my land instead
And pointed to the sky.
He grinned as his new toy circled above
The jet with the bomb hanging low
Looking for me.
I cannot move.
If I move my foot away from this land
I will lose my home.
I will lose the breath of my ancestors
Who worked the soil with their hands
And now I am surrounded by your cousin and his friends
Who are angry and hungry
Tanks, rifles and jets
Shadow the olive trees.
So I put down the stick.
I put down the stone.
I put down the rock.
I rest the gun.
But I will not move my feet from my soil.