Rolling Stones in Tel Aviv

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You’d be glad to know

that my Israeli cousin approves of you,

my “Palestinian boyfriend.”

She says our fathers are both Semites, after all.

 

They both don’t know the taste of pork,

circumcised fifty years ago, born into the land

of Not Enough, taught to feel shame,

hardwired to like guilt.

 

On Yom Kippur I get to feel guilty

for a whole day.

Like the time I thought my dog had slowed

with diabetes

 

when really it was just dying.

Or the fact that even men

fake orgasms. Or when I watched you watch me

hide the Afikomen

 

and still took all the money for myself.

Or last Ramadan in Ramallah, when I told you

I’ve never touched a woman like that.

Or even now, on this blanket in the dirt,

 

the fact that I don’t even know which one is

Mick Jagger, or that I’ll only lean forward

into the blue lights for so long.

Only until the glass volleys from this girl’s mouth

 

just miss my neck, catching me

in the sun, grazing my arm, the tongue

like burnt sugar

or guilt.

 

“May you live to see your children’s

children,” as I drop three shekels

into a beggar’s palm, as your aunts argue in Arabic

over fresh or frozen peas, as I wonder if you can

 

shrink-wrap sperm

and stow it away,

or do you have to freeze it and face it

every morning?

 

I ask because my cousin refuses to die childless.

Even with those tubes coming out of her, her mouth

frozen in the shape of an O, like Adonoy,

like “marry me,” like the Ramallah girl’s

 

mark on my neck, darkened like an

olive tree, like the MiSheberach

that’s never answered

but never stops, sometimes when you drive away

 

I cry so gracelessly, gratefully,

like a refugee returning home, like

tonight I’ll bring her to my room, like even

sailors, we are told, never learn to swim.

 

For when a ship goes down, the swimmers

will just keep swimming,

only to suffer the longest.

So tell me.

 

Do you amuse them when you go away,

these Jewish girls, with little tales

of exile? Because if you saw me like this,

you’d never leave.

 

How I torture her in bed.

How I make her beg and beg

and then refuse her.

Illustration by Maggie Meshnick.

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