“Bulldozers Undoing God” — poem

Mahfoutha Ishtayeh, in this iconic photo — taken in Salem, east of Nablus , 2005— , holds on to one of her trees as Israeli soldiers and settlers tore down almost 800 olive trees in the village, as part of a continuous movement of land confiscations and destructions of property and sources of livelihoods .

A chain is corseted
around the tree’s waist and hers;
flesh in flesh
olive skin on olive skin
fingers branching into intersections
literal rootedness jars their storms
wraps them
in her unbreakable grandmother word
we will not leave
we will not leave, leave
this here is spirit.
this here is not to be bulldozed.

She clings onto the tree trunk
-the feeling afore unwanted-abortion-
her face is of ours.
she cries her child
she cries her life-giver
she cries her only knowledge of what god’s dancing looks like.

Land — stone and dirt, pillowed
buried ones and ones lying, pillowed
contaminated reality, pillowed
numbed faith, pillowed and indulged upon
embroidered destinies, pillowed
constant Nakbas, pillowed
tragedy, pillowed — pillowed and bedroomed
and made normal: mornings of mourning
on a breakfast table,
tomatoes and cucumbers
labaneh and hummus
tear gas and tea
onions and resilience
yogurt rubbed on tear-gassed eyelids
two spoons of sugar and a thirsty sea
bread and rubber-coated bullets
martyrdom for breakfast
and martyrdom till dusk…

in Jerusalem, every footstep is a grave.

Never was love verbed this intensely:
her skeleton is that of the tree’s,
roots stitched into land stitched into identity
separation is like
unmaking love.
ungluing names glued to places.
undoing god.

A pulling pressure, soldiered:
occupiers occupy her limbs
forcefully untangling a grandmother
a soldier as old as a leaf born yesterday 
pulls a trigger on a woman older than his heritage;
two martyrs fall

Here, every footstep is a grave,
every grandmother is a Palestine.