HEBRON POEM: "Mother, may I?"

CPTnet
3 March 2006

HEBRON POEM: "Mother, may I?"

by Bourke Kennedy

"Take 4 giant steps."

"Mother, may I?"

"Yes."

"Take 9 baby steps."

"Mother, may I?"

"Yes."

"Take 6 bunny hops."

"You did not say 'mother, may I?'
 Go back to the start"

This is a playground game.
 The first person to reach the other side of the play yard is the winner and
becomes "mother".

"Take 6 giant steps."

"Mother, may I?

"No."

The Palestinians, young and old,
stood in bunched lines inside the souq
of the Old City.
Two Israeli soldiers with their rifles
pointed at the lines
 stood in front of them.

"Take 9 baby steps."

"Mother, may I?"

"Yes."

The group moved forward a foot.

I could see
further through the street
towards the Ibrahimi metal electronic turnstile.
Three Israel soldiers
were on either side
of a dozen Jewish tourists,
moving slowly along the covered street.

"Take 6 giant steps."

"Mother, may I?"

"Yes."

The Palestinians inched forward.
The 'game' went on for 30 minutes,
inch by inch.
The number of Palestinians
 doubled and then tripled.

 We were finally at the crossroad.
The tourists
 had been led to the right
towards the Avraham Avinu Settlement exit.

"Take 3 bunny hops."

"Mother, may I?"

"Yes."

The Israeli soldiers
 followed the tourists to the right.

Game over

But it is not a game.

"Mother, may I

go to school?
go to my cousins?
go to the market?"

"No, you may not.
You may not take giant steps,
baby steps
or bunny hops.
You may stay on the starting line."

"Mother, may I?"