Ode To Gazans

11 November, 2023

I do not live in Palestine nor in Israel, nor am I Palestinian, Israeli, Arab, Muslim, Jew or Christian.

Nor am I active duty military, a veteran, or a medic.

I cannot know what it is like to be you.

Here is what I do know.

--------------------------------

I am a former child refugee.

We fled post-war Communist Vietnam when I was two.

What is happening in Gaza

Is igniting body echoes

Of cratered landscapes across my mother land.

My mother's land.

My mother's hands

That hold the injustices

Of one hundred thousand dollar bombs

Dropped out of war planes

That cost one hundred million dollars

Onto people

Who earn less than a dollar a day.

“At least we’re not getting bombs dropped on us anymore.”

Dad would say, softly.

In response to my childhood protests

Of carrying a heavy school bag on my own

Of taking care of my little sister when I wanted to play instead.

I never understood his strange gratitude

For the absence of life threat.

Distorted by experiences unspoken that seek life,

Like tender tendrils of jungle vines, despite Agent Orange.

Over the last few weeks,

As life has given my partner and I

The usual ups and downs

Of life in the first world, I’ve started responding, softly:

“At least we’re not getting bombs dropped on us anymore.”

It is strange to feel a kinship with people on the other side of world.

Because of bombs.

And bittersweet.

Because we are safe now

And you are not.


Khamthien
Kham Thien street in central Hanoi which was turned to rubble by an American bombing raid on December 27, 1972. (Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
3c0474cc 26fc 4dff be77 41a3197f98b0
Palestinians search a house after an Israeli air strike, in the city of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, October 12 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Subscribe

Sign up with your email to receive news and updates.