Poem of the Month, August 2011Posted: 2011/08/03
GUNS AND VEGETABLES: MARKET DAY IN HEBRON
By Susan Evangelista (1997)
I am just a simple woman
From a small village in the Philippines
Where we have a market only twice a week:
Wednesdays and Saturdays.
I go there to buy vegetables,
And a few shrimps to cook with them,
Sometimes a bit of meat.
(I raise my own chickens
And they give me eggs too.)
I like to market:
I buy shrimps from my friend Lina –
Her husband is a fisherman.
I know the women who sell greens too,
And always stand chatting with them.
They usually have news from other towns.
I find out who is getting married
And whose baby has come.
And I return home feeling
That Life is full.
I wonder what it is like
To be a Jewish settler woman
And to go to the market in Hebron
With an Israeli soldier beside me
With a gun.
Could I enjoy a friendly chat?
Could I endure the hostile gaze,
The sullen thrust of merchandise for money?
Could there be any bargaining?
Would the exchange include friendly information?
Could I meet the vendor’s eye?
I suppose I would get good prices that way
And surely spend less time.
But no woman wants to market like that
In a marketplace with ghosts of pain
Under armed escort
As a threat to all who go there.
Israeli women, Palestinian women:
Free them from politics, from ideologies,
So that they may enjoy marketing
Like normal women
And go home again
Feeling that life is full!
This poem was first published in Horizon No. 2, IFLAC’s online magazine (1997-2002).