After Death of Shireen Abu Akleh I Think of the Bakr Children

Sculpture called “Spoils of War,” 13th century BCE pottery from Deir el-Balah, Dayan collection at the Israel Museum

© Susan Eisenberg, 2015

“Spoils of War,” 13th century BCE pottery from Deir el-Balah, Dayan collection at the Israel Museum

After Death of Shireen Abu Akleh I Think of the Bakr Children

Those four playful cousins
kicking a soccer ball on the beach
in Gaza City, picked off
like carnival shooting-gallery
tin ducks:

Ismail, 9
Zaharia and Ahed, 10
Mohamed, 11 --
I can remember my own
sweet son…

After thorough inquiry
of that tragic incident, no crimes charged:
self-exoneration. Now those judges
who mishandled the cousins, request custody
of a bullet.


Talking About Gaza 2014

After she’d defended me as Jewish enough
to speak (though so naive!), we began to exchange 
arguments, articles, links — the deep anchor 

of our positions, the draw. Our sallies
like submarine incursions drawing fire to test 
perimeter defenses. Her responses 

always rapid-fire rehearsed retorts
until I asked: You’re okay
with 526 children murdered?
A mother, she paused.

As though long submerged in an air pocket
along the ocean’s floor, this response took its time
to break the surface, reach my ear: Yes.

That pause
so deafening
ended maneuvers.

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Susan Eisenberg — poet, visual artist, and oral historian — is a Resident Scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center where she directs the On Equal Terms Project focused on employment equity. She is poetry editor of Labor, and her most recent poetry book is Stanley’s Girl (Cornell) and most recent art installation exhibition was at the AFL-CIO in Washington DC.

Photo credit: Estelle Disch

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