Nebraska Center for Writers

by Barbara Schmitz

We go to the Peace Vigil a last time.
ll:30 on a terrace above the Wailing Wall.
Soldiers with machine guns.
Keeping silence, I hear john
and Yoko singing in my head.
Then we dance and sing
Shalom Alakem
Asalam Alacum
Peace be with you
looking deep into light blue,
dark brown loving eyes.
The people from Turkish television
ask Shahabuddin his opinion.
"You don't need," he says, "one more opinion."
"It's not up to us. It's up to God."
When they shove the mike in front of me,
I say, "It's like John Lennon said,
"We've got to give peace a chance."

Into the bus to the airport,
stand in line in security,
bags searched, x-rayed,
answer questions: "Who did
you see in Jerusalem?" I think
of sweet, dark Eliyahu, son of Berkeley hippies,
his small purple room full of books,
working all this time for peace'
Hedve, Jewish ancient one in sweeping,
sequined skirt, puts stars of our foreheads
on the bus; Hannalisa who painted the energies
of the Heavens funneling down to Jerusalem;
Miriam who wrote us ecstatic love poems,
Ibrahim, who cried after the suicide bombings.

Bob and Subhan go to buy liquor.
Bob and Nazam go to the restroom,
make it to the shuttle bus as the doors are closing.
Goodbye, ancient, white rock, crumbling city.
All the Prophets manifested here!
Goodbye pain, suffering, explosions, and joy.
Goodbye city of Herod's temple.
Goodbye old walled city where Armenians, Jews,
Palestinians, Christians all live together,
only streets dividing them.
Goodbye Wailing Wall, Dome of the Rock,
Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Rabia's Tomb.
Goodbye Hasid's in black, tiny hats, and curs.
Goodbye beautiful young Israelis in 70's

embroidered hippie clothes.
Goodbye, old city, Holy City, Jerusalem.

Reprinted with permission
from The Upside Down Heart
Copyright © 2003
by Barbara Schmitz
Sandhills Press

by Barbara Schmitz

So peace will come
when we all hold hands,
move soft and slow
in a circle, reciting
sacred words of all religions
with rising/falling breath.
No longer trying to paint
our scars so we can remember.
So everyone can see.
Only when we are
no longer even thinking,
only swaying, back and forth,
all hearts pumping living
red blood, all memories
wiped. wrapped, buried,
gone beyond resurrection.
All together. Arms on shoulders.
A sweet human hum.

Reprinted with permission
from The Upside Down Heart
Copyright © 2003
by Barbara Schmitz
Sandhills Press

by Barbara Schmitz

My mother delivered me, the living
first. My head battered open her
door and I squeezed through the
gate, out into blaze, babble, and
arms that were waiting to hold
me once I was wiped free from
all the evidence of my bloody beginning
and my closeness to the dangerous edge.

My twin sister was dealt a different
fate. She returned to the ether
without a parent's touch on skin,
a sparkling look from a loving eye.
She was pushed from the womb,
after me, already lifeless and black.
My mother laughed and cried,
looking from my squirming form
to her small quiet body. All
at once, such celebration, such grief.

I made friends with death, growing
next to its utter stillness, long before
I tasted the nectar of my mother's
breast or heard my father's voice
naming me. Warmth and cooing
filled my side of the scale. Nothingness
and the beat of angel wings
was the balance my twin
on the other side weighed.

Reprinted with permission
from Lives of the Saints
Copyright © 1996
by Barbara Schmitz
Main-Travelled Roads #8

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