Your Village

Poem by Elena Bell

Once in a village that is burning
      because a village is always somewhere burning 

And if you do not look because it is not your village
      it is still your village 

In that village is a hollow child
      You drown when he looks at you with his black, black eyes 

And if you do not cry because he is not your child
      he is still your child 

All the animals that could run away have run away
      The trapped ones make an orchestra of their hunger 

The houses are ruin      Nothing grows in the garden
      The grandfather’s grave is there      A small stone 

under the shade of a charred oak      Who will brush off the dead
      leaves      Who will call his name for morning prayer 

Where will they — the ones who slept in this house and ate from this dirt –

a village always, somewhere burning?

From: Moving traditions October 9, 2023

Listen to Elana Bell perform the poem here

Featured image: Cars and homes are torched by settlers in the West Bank town of Huwara on February 26, 2023 (from Times of Israel)

Elena Bell

Elana Bell
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths.

Elana Bell’s debut collection of poetry, Eyes, Stones, was selected by Fanny Howe as the winner of the 2011 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, and brings her complex heritage as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors to consider the difficult question of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her second book of poems, Mother Country, is forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2020. Elana is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Edward Albee Foundation, and the Brooklyn Arts Council. Her writing has appeared in many journals, including AGNI, Harvard Review, and The Massachusetts Review. Elana teaches poetry to actors at the Juilliard School, and sings with the Resistance Revival Chorus, a group of women activists and musicians committed to bringing joy and song to the resistance movement. For more, please visit her website.

Other poems by this author

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