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Thursday, November 02, 2023


by Beth Heller

To repair the world, they said,
was our duty and our privilege
and the reason for our continued existence
Israel was supposed to be
the place where this work was embodied
and my body was put to use in its garden
I carried water in buckets
My 15 year old arms reaching toward trees
planted in the name of hope

We looked across the border
into barren desert and felt pride
And this was the mistake

This pride in green fields on one side
and desert on the other
We thought it meant they didn’t care

or couldn’t do the hard work of growing
We thought we had the right
and the power

And that THEY did not
And that THEY only wanted bombs 
and rage
This pride is the killer
the border, the dividing line 
between right and wrong

When all we had to do was step over 
a nonexistent line in the sand
drawn by meddlers and offer a hand
Now it is too late
The healing has flipped to genocide 
in no other name than power
The thing that was planted
was hate
on both sides of the fence
Tikkun Olam is for all of us
A responsibility and
a privilege

And the path is a walk
through a rain of blood
nurturing nothing

Same as it ever was
in this desert where humanity
has wandered far too long
Blame us
Blame them
Blame everyone

Or not, but walk
Walk that path 
towards oasis

The one fountain
contained in our bodies

The same blood pumps through all of us
The same blood stains the ground
on either side of the fence

The same blood
calls out for 

Beth Heller’s poetry has appeared in a variety of chapbooks and anthologies, including those of the Austin International Poetry Festival, the Houston Poetry Fest, Wild Word: Poets of the Gunnison Valley, and Fools Court Press, Houston, as well as newspapers and journals such as the Mountain Gazette, Fungi Magazine, and most recently and after a decades-long absence from public poeming, Medicine for Minds & Hearts: a MycoAnthology of poems inspired by a love of mushrooms, Fungi Press.  She moves around but is currently nested in Western North Carolina