Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bodies--Open to the Elements

The sea, the beach, the wall, the strip of desert keeping a man from a job to feed his family, the bridge--all sites of bodies open to the elements, the elements of the constricted human heart. On the seas, a small boat, The Irene, carrying its bodies, 9 men and women from Israel, the United States, Britain and Germany, carrying hand drawn placards asking Israel to end the blockade of Gaza, the hands holding the petitions belong to Rami Elhanan, a peace activist whose daughter was killed by a Palestinian bomber, belong to Lillian Rosengarten, 75 year old hands, the hands of a woman who fled the Nazis as a child in Frankfurt, the burly younger hands of brothers Yonatan Shapira and Itamar, former Israeli military bodies, now bodies at sea, trying to find the eye of Israel's ultra-nationalistic storm, a small collection of Jewish bodies, hauled out of the sea by Israeli marines, away from their destination of hope. September 28, 2010

The beach of Tel Aviv, three women sitting in the sun, near the glistening waters, three women's bodies doing such a simple thing, their flesh growing warm in the sun together, three bodies declared illegal in their sharing of the beach. Riki, in her 63rd year, breaks the Israeli law by sharing the sea with two Palestinian young women, so they too can share the delights of the Tel Aviv beach scene so many brag about. "As Tel Aviv nears, the Palestinian passengers silently survey the tall buildings and outdoor cafes and seem especially taken with the ubiquitous motocycles and mopeds that speed around the city. 'I would like to ride on one, like that, said Sara. but all the Palestinian women have just one request: to go to thesea. For most, it's their first trip to the seaside, even though it is a short drive from home. Once on the beach, Sara asks for a piece of paper to form a small boat with her name on ite, so she says, 'the sea will remember me.' The women watch as the paper boat with a forbidden name breasts the small waves. Bodies bound by courage and desire and the will to confront a state that bans the sea. September 17, 2010

The wall,  Izzedine Kawazbeh, 35 years old with five children waiting for him back at his home on the West Bank scrabbles up the rope ladder, hauling his large body over the Separation Wall so he can be one of the first at a job site in Israel. Israeli police spot him and soon he is dead. His body too large to move quick enough, his body, the body of a worker, deemed not human enough to be spoken to, to be touched with concern. He never made it to the contstruction site that day. And his body, fallen in a bare desert strip along the gray Wall, is the body of so many of whom we never hear and if we do......? The human element of wanting a national home that feels safe for some, for us--dismisses the father's body; it is just one of them, an unwanted, suspect body, a Romany body in the desert.

The bridge, a young man playing a violin, puts it away for the last time. His body that so loved the feel of the carved and stringed wood in his hands also loved the kiss of another body like his. There is no privacy for some bodies, for so long shame has haunted them, state sponsored shame, religious sponsored shame, the simple ridicule of young people who live in times of endless wars, and see another's difference as fair game and so Tyler Clementi climbs the barrier and sways in the winds that push up the Hudson River Valley Basin, and throws himself into the air, over water, into the sun, away, away from the human element.

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