After the final heave, house collapsing
in and all the prayers that had held
the ceiling up for years rushing
through dust with a low moan
but leaving, you have seen her
sifting through the rubble,
sandaled foot striking an iron
bedframe, splintered picture
of a prophet’s resting place.
With no tears you have seen her,
dry like stone, like tile,
Then understand the law as I did not:
We tore her house down. Her kitchen smelled of zaatar
and of warm bread. She may not rebuild
here or elsewhere.
Consider prayers’ desertion and our faith
crushed where it was neatly tucked
between headscarves in the top drawer
even as our walls still stand.
No believing now. Only children in the alleys,
their blood darkening the dirt.
After the rains, this mound will settle, sink
in on itself and forget what it was.
She will not forget.
—Rachel Tzvia Back