ISSN 1545-2859




            ROCHELLE MASS

Other plans

In earth destined for tough cacti – not grass nor garden;
in earth tangled by winter’s end, now boasting spring
I watch two apple trees planted with my granddaughters –
touch the blossoms, hope for fruit that I can serve them.
Eight olive trees shelter these newcomers
to the orchard I have planned, near
citrus we dug deep into the stiff earth when
the girls were young.

I am loyal to this place as I bend, twist my hand
over weeds. I can almost see the fruit plumping
feel the shape.
In earth that faces Jenin
where bombs are assembled, rifles loaded
I wipe my chin as the sun sits large on my shoulder, sure
this is juice of the new apple, not


I forget so many things, but today as we drove out to see wild flowers
just over the hill, I saw a person I’ll never forget - a man, I thought -
in pants under a flowing skirt. Strange, and it was raining

and the fabric was thin and then I saw a soldier, in army greens
a heavy jacket zipped to the chin, a knitted kipa on his head, a gun
swinging over his shoulder and the skirt, looked like a Bedouin jalabya –

it was really a prayer shawl, a talit, one of the very wide ones
cream-colored, with black bands rimming the sides. The tassles
grabbed the wind as we drove by. The soldier was mumbling

perhaps repeating the last of Sabbath prayers, returning
from synagogue to the army camp that has been in our village
almost a year now.

The making of a hero

Hadar was hired to guard the entrance of the shopping mall in Afula.
They gave her a uniform with a badge
a gun in a holster
and a metal detector – trained her to check each customer
expected her to refuse entry to anyone suspicious.
She was supposed to make decisions, keep the place safe.
Last week Hadar made a mistake. She let through a guy dressed in
ordinary clothes - didn’t notice he was packing explosives under his shirt.

The report stated:
She let the undercover agent through.
A dangerous slip up. Suspension required.
Hadar was sent home.

On Sunday she got good news: you’re back on the job.
The next day, at 5:00 in the afternoon a woman tried to enter the mall
and as Hadar brought the detector rod along her body, it buzzed, kept
on sizzling. Hadar shouted to the male guard near by. As he approached
the woman set off explosives strapped round her hips.
The male guard was immediately killed.
Hadar is in critical condition.

I go to the mall often, Hadar checks my bag each time
nods permission to enter and smiles.
I go in to buy expensive face cream
take prescriptions to the pharmacy
drink latte at the café
buy CDs at the record shop
go to movies on the 3rd floor.

Last week a bomber from England blew himself up at Mike’s Place, a pub
along the beach in Tel Aviv, and two days later there was an explosion
in Jerusalem, but Afula is close to home, it’s our neighborhood.
It’s where we go.
I need the details, need to know the condition of my cousin’s classmate and
her mother who were wounded
the surgeon who lost one eye
and if Hadar is going to live.
I don’t think I’ll be able to drink latte there ever again,
don’t think I could keep it down.

Copyright © 2004 Rochelle Mass. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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