June Jordan

JuneIn detention in concentration camps
we trade stories
we take turns sharing the straw mat or a pencil
we watch what crawls in and out of the sand
The guards do not allow the blue woolen blanket
my family traveled far to bring
to this crepuscular and gelid cell
where my still breathing infant son
and I defy the purgatory implications
of a state-created hell
Wa'Alaikum As-Salam

The village trembles from the heavy tanks that try
to terrify the children:
Everyday my little brother runs behind the rubble
practicing the tactics of the stones against the rock
In January soldiers broke his fingers one by one
Time has healed his hands but not the fury
that controls what used to be his heart
Insha A'llah

Close the villages
Close the clinics
Close the school
Close the house
Close the windows of the house
Kill the vegetables languishing under the sun
Kill the milk of the cows left to the swelling of pain
Cut the electricity
Cut the telephones
Confine the people to the people
Do Not Despair of the Mercy of Allah
Fig trees will grow and oranges
erupt from desert holdings on which plastic
bullets (70% zinc, 20% glass, and 10%
plastic) will prove blood
soluble and fertilize the earth
where sheep will graze

and women no longer grieve
and beat their breasts
They will beat clean fine-woven rugs
outside a house smelling of cinnamon and nutmeg
So says IMAN
the teacher of peace
the shepherd on the mountain of the lamb
the teacher of peace
who will subdue the howling of the lion
so that we may kneel
as we must
five times beginning just after dawn
and ending just before dusk
in the IBADAH of prayer

From Naming Our Destiny, Thunder's Mouth Press, N.Y.C. 1989

Glossary :
As-Salamm 'Alaykum: peace be unto you

Wa 'Alaikum As-Salam: and peace be unto you
Insha A'llah: as if Allah wills it
"Do Not Despair of the Mercy of Allah:": verse from The Our'an
Alhamdullilah: praise be to Allah
Iman: faith
Ibadah: worship in a ritual sense
Allahu Akbar: Allah is the Greatest

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