The Dogs of Ashdod – Im Kamil
The Dogs of Ashdod
The dogs of Ashdod are nervous
because of the sirens. Their plight
is catalogued in the Jerusalem Post.
Uri inquires, is this for The Onion?
The reporter replies, this is a serious
problem for the southern pet owner.
A 3-year old in Gaza crawls under
his bed, makes a lullaby of the rebar
hum in the concrete. He assures
his aunt that his parents can beat back
the bombs, but if that fails, he tells her,
he has a cache of candy he can offer
the enemy. 15-year old Mohammad
is on Skype, his face, fading in
and out of the computer light.
He tells me, it sounds like a monster
DJ playing disco outside. His voice
is drowned by the deadly beat
and by the dogs of Ashdod barking.
Note from the author – Im Kamil: This literately means “mother of Kamil” a name that the residents of south Lebanon gave to the Israeli MK Drone. Those drones where so present in the daily lives of folks there that they gave them a name as they would a neighbor.
You know that I never wanted to leave your grandmother’s house. You know I thought nothing can pry me away from that place until I that day I saw Abu Musa kicking and flailing in his own blood. God have mercy, it was better for him anyway. I couldn’t live with that. Who could? God have mercy on his soul.
You know even your aunt Sharife couldn’t pry me from this place. Look at my door all dented. I wake up one morning and it’s all dented and I ask her what happened and she says the storm dented it. Right, the storm dented it. The wind came and took a pot and banged it on my door repeatedly. The wind dented it. You would think that I am the enemy, not her sister, an Israeli – you would think I am occupying her home. Fifty years of this misery and she doesn’t let up. Life is so hard Habeebi.
All those wars didn’t move me from this patio, from that view of the valley. I stayed here in 82 and I stayed here in 96 and I stayed when they came to our home and searched all our closets. I am not afraid of them. I challenged them when they came and they kept on telling us aslikha in their broken Arabic. Aslikha they called them. I told them do we look like we have asliha – your grandmother of 70 and me over fifty and your miserable aunt. None of these wars would have driven us away. Yes, we ran away sometimes but we always came back. Until I saw Abu Musa like that, pinned to the road, drenched in his son’s blood. They stained my valley. Yes, they washed the road and moved the car and buried everything but when I sat down for tea there it was – a big purple stain and Abu Musa flailing in it – kicking up his legs for half an hour and flapping his arms like someone being strangled and then just when we thought it was the end he would start again in spasms like he was being electrocuted. They had to wait for five hours, before they could retrieve his body and whatever was left of Musa. God have mercy on their souls.
You know nothing could pry me away from this place. Not when they nearly beheaded your grandmother with shrapnel; not when they hit the house twice; not when they hit Karaki’s water tank and it landed in our courtyard. None of those things drove me away. But this, this stained the valley forever and there were so many memories here–the births, the courtships, the weddings–but they are all stained. Every time I looked at it I see Abu Musa kicking on that road and Musa sitting still in that car, half gone. So I moved to your uncle’s house. There I have a view of the olive grove and the wheat fields, all the way to the schoolhouse, and it’s a clean view. Here I can look out on this land and remember how your father courted your mother when he was working in those wheat fields in the summer. I can remember how Rabab used to sing over there on that perched house and her voice would carry all the way across the fields, into the houses across the way. I can think of all these things and not think at all.
Zein El-Amine was born and raised in Lebanon. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Maryland where he teaches Global Literature and Social Change. He also leads annual literary journeys to Ireland and Egypt for the university. His poems have been published by Folio, Foreign Policy in Focus, Beltway Quarterly, DC Poets Against the War Anthology, Penumbra, GYST, and Joybringer. He has won the Tallahassee Writers’ Association Annual Poetry and Haiku Contest. His short stories have appeared in Boundoff and Uno Mas magazines.
FACEBOOK: Zein El-Amine