The Undefended Heart

Jena Schwartz

After the points made and the points taken
and the points given and the points traded
After the perspectives shared
and the perspectives altered
and the perspectives inverted and the perspectives
After the arguments for and the arguments against
after the hashing out and the boiling down
and the bubbling up of tears that emotion and fact
must be severed limb to limb and the grief
of land that can't translate its own memories
into something like peaceful coexistence
After the lack of nuance and the belabored debates
After the oppressor and the oppressed
after the victim and the villain
after the sirens and the rockets
after the provocations and the tear gas
after the abandoned and the brutalized
after the fleeing and the forsaking and the fences
and the funerals
After the infographics and the memes
After the centuries of family drama
after nothing is left but rubble and racing nervous systems
what is left, my brother?
what is left, my sister?
There is no pride, no victory, no winner, no peace
only this,
the undefended heart
gleaming in my chest
inside of which you'll find
the desert
the valley
the wadi
the wall
the mosque
the temple
the sea
the cry of my people
and the cry of your people
the grief
the longing
the recognition
of me in you and of you in me
inconvenient though this may be
for those who would have us remain enemies
the children
the grandmothers
and the grandfathers
who carry ancestral memory in our veins
speak now through these chambers, praying --
to G-d, to Allah, to the memory of those before
and to all of the afters after the fighting has ceased --
for peace

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