Mirrors? Are you surprised that no one should be able to
look themselves in the eye these days? Omar Yussef sat forward
in his chair and gave his choking, cynical laugh. They lead us
further into corruption and violence every day, and no one can
do anything about it. The town is run by a shitty tribe of uneducated
bastards whove got the police scared of them.
George Saba spoke quietly. You know, Ive been thinking
about that. The Martyrs Brigades, they come up here and
shoot across the valley at Gilo, and the Israelis fire back and
then come in with their tanks. My house has been hit a few
times, when the bastards did their shooting from my roof and
drew the Israeli fire. I found a bullet in my kitchen wall that
came in the salon window, went through a thick wooden door
and traveled down a hallway, before it made a big hole in my
refrigerator. He looked down and Omar Yussef saw his jaw
stiffen. I wont let them do it again.
Be careful, George. Omar Yussef put his hand on the
knuckles of George Sabas thick fingers. I can say what I feel
about the Martyrs Brigades, because I have a big clan here.
They wouldnt threaten me, unless they were prepared to face
the anger of half of Dehaisha. But you, George, youre a Christian.
You dont have the same protection.
Maybe Ive lived too long away from here to accept things.
He glanced up at Omar Yussef. There was a raw intensity in his
blue eyes. Perhaps I just cant forget what you taught me
about living a principled life.
Omar Yussef was silent. He finished his coffee.
You know who else has returned to Bethlehem from our
old crowd? George Sabas voice sounded tight, straining to
lighten the tone of the conversation. Elias Bishara.
Really? Omar Yussef smiled.
You havent seen him yet? Well, hes only been back a
week. Im sure hell stop by your house once hes settled in.
Younger than George Saba, Elias Bishara was another of
Omar Yussefs favorite pupils at his old school. Wasnt he
studying for a doctorate in the Vatican? Omar Yussef asked.
Yes, but since then hes been living in Rome as some kind
of apostolic secretary to one of the cardinals. Now hes back at
the Church of the Nativity. I know, Elias and I are only asking
for trouble by coming home, Abu Ramiz. Perhaps you cant
understand what it has been like for us. We grow up in this dismal
place, wanting desperately to leave for another country
where we can make money and live in peace. But the day
always comes when you imagine the savor of real hummus
and the intoxicating brightness of the sun on the hills and the
sound of the church bells and the muezzins. You miss it so
much you can taste the longing on your tongue. Then you
come back, no matter what it is you are giving up. You just cant
Ill go to the Church and say hello to Elias as soon as I get
Next month is Christmas, so I wanted to invite you to come
with us to the Church to celebrate, George said. And then
you and Umm Ramiz will come for Christmas dinner at my
I would be delighted, and so will she, too.
The two men argued over who should pay the check. Both
threw money onto the table and picked up the others cash to
force it back into his hand. Then the shooting began. It was
close enough that it sounded big and hollow, not like the
whipcrack of faraway firing.
George looked up. Those sons of whores, theyve started
again. He stood, leaving his cash on the table. Abu Ramiz, I
have to go.
They went to the door. Omar Yussef could see the tracer
striping across the valley toward a house along the street. The
big, bass bursts of gunfire from the village were directed toward
the Israelis in the Jerusalem suburb over the wadi. The gunfire
emanated from the roof of a square, two-story house only fifty
yards away. There was a dark Mitsubishi jeep in the lee of the
building. George Saba stepped into the street. Jesus, I think
they might be on my roof again.
Kenn Nesbitt is new Children's Poet Laureate(Jun 12 2013) Kenn Nesbitt has been named the new Children's Poet Laureate: Consultant in Children's Poetry to the Poetry Foundation, which noted that the two-year position...