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BOOKS & THE CULTURE Colour I wonder how Gaza looks through Gazan eyes. Is blue the colour of the Mediterranean Sea or the bright banner of someone else’s dream? Is green the colour of the olive tree or the dusty camouflage of a uniform? Is red the sunset before a better dawn or the pain of unhealed wounds? If I could touch with Gazan hands, the yellow earth where so many others have walked, what would I remember? If I could stand with Gazan -pride would I fall where too many others have fallen, or would I walk to a future of my own making? I tried to hear a Gazan voice but the wind carried too many words and stories spoken and written by others. So I tried to read between the lines but there was not enough room there to tell the stories that have yet to be told. Now I wonder, if I could hear a Gazan song, would I understand the words? If I could speak with Gazan lips, what would I say? Memory Lapse Memory laps at my sleeve as it falls into the basin, and soaks the linen shirt I am wearing and the smell of wet linen carries me from this particular to a time: When a mackerel sky the colour of iodine and a cataract of water like a glass cobweb, move in stillness between two sides of a ravine And unknown to the tadpoles, a family peels boiled eggs in the shade of the rocks I hear the sound of wind recorded through a microphone as the linen beats against my skin like a sail I am not at home but in a time: When I am riding in a car by the Loire And in my mind Paris is still far from that morning when we were hunting in the fields We carried rifles Our coats of oiled cotton, painted with the blood of autumn leaves, our shields I waited in the grass enfolded by the mist I raised my gun and fired at a deer And I missed The bullet fell too low and hit a tree And so wounding it, set us both, me and the deer, free. As I pull this image, dripping, out of the water and lay it on a towel, I note that surface tension is enough to allow a single drop to skate on top of the water and not fall through a surface made of nothing but itself as long as it keeps moving. Ali Abunimah Aa li Abunimah is a young Palestinian who grew up in London and Belgium and now conducts research at the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. The De cember 1998 issue of The Link, published by Americans for Middle East Understanding, Inc. \(Room 245, 475 Riverside Drive, New 1996 journey to Palestine. For more than two years he has also been engaged in a vigorous “two-way relationship” with National Public Radio via electronic mail, responding to coverage on Middle East issues. Readers may request his daily media critiques at [email protected] . Examples of his letters appear in The Link. Naomi Shihab Nye The Observer’s poetry page is partially funded through a grant from the Austin Writers’ League in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. JANUARY 22, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31