Guest contribution by Amir Hussain
In the bruised streets of Shuja’iyya,
covered in rubble and smoke,
bodies are carried to the hospital
on the arms of a thousand men.
Near the harbor, boys play soccer.
Suddenly, shells break into bones
from a ship docked near sandy waters.
A man rushes in. A woman falls to her knees.
“Shuja’iyya,” they cry in one voice,
“Here lie your sons and daughters
without hands, fingers, and arms.”
Their voice is a song without end.
Consider now a family at home,
burned and blackened in sleep.
The sun falls over their heads
as blood-water seeps from the land.
From wet rock to stony harbor,
green shrouds lie in the streets of Shuja’iyya,
with faces uncovered and mouths
tipped open to the white sky.
Despite the graphic images and details drawn from real stories and events that took place in the Shuja’iyya massacre in the Gaza Strip, the innermost heart of this poem — and of this kind of poetry in general — expresses a resistance to brutality. In a world that can allow this suffering to happen and to go on, poetry which does not look away forces that world to see its own inhumanity.
I wrote “Death in Gaza” with that kind of idea in mind. Also implicit in the poem is the rejection of a neutral stance, and is meant in some ways to shock the reader into recognizing that the human devastation in Gaza is particular in its situation and history but also universal in the fact that those who are suffering and dying are men, women, sons, and daughters. I think to recognize this is a part, however small, of the process of stepping into solidarity.
Amir Hussain is a Minneapolis-based poet and writer. His poems have appeared in Mizna, Water~Stone Review, Midway, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other venues.