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BOOKS & THE CULTURE b today i do such simple things i get up i take a hot steamy shower wash away the night i do not run out of water the water does not bypass my home on the way up the hill to my neighbors the water runs into my house washes over my skin and drips into my open mouth today i walk downtown to mail an express letter no one stops me no one asks me for a pass i walk to work no barricades block me and if i wanted to go and buy a used car and if i had a son and i wanted to take my son to look at and maybe buy a used car i would not worry we would go and look at the car i would not have to search for a concrete barrel for us to hide behind i would not have to stop the bullets with no weapons nothing only my hand reaching up and waving and shouting the child the child to stop them before they shoot my son and kill him i would not worry because today no one questions my right to live on this land we would go and see the car and if we wanted we would buy the car and drive home today i do such simple things although today is yom kippur no one locks me in my house or barricades my street i get up and go to work i earn money to pay rent and buy food and soap and postage for the letter i work on computers no one questions my religion or my ethnicity for my job i do not have to work as a waiter or a builder but if i chose to work as a waiter or a builder or on computers i could work today no matter whose religious holiday it is today they would not close my street or lock me in my neighborhood because today no one claims a three thousand year old text makes it right to throw me out of my home to take away my land to say there go to canada let the canadians take you in nobody questions my right to work and to shower and to eat and to look at and even to buy a used car today i do such simple things i hear the birds sing in the tree outside my window i take a hot steamy shower my neighbors up the hill do not take all the water for themselves so i have water to wash and to drink today i walk downtown and go to work and if i want i will go to look at and maybe buy a used car and if i had a son i would take him and i would not worry my son would not press into my side to hide from the bullets and they would not shoot him in his belly and he would not die jim saliba, Oct. 9, 2000 1111111 This moving poem is about the death of Mohammed Jamal Al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy who was photographed crouching beside his father, moments before the boy was shot dead by Israeli soldiers. A descendant of turn -of -the -century Lebanese immigrants and rural Southern farmers, jim saliba grew up in Tennessee and Georgia. He studied drama at Stanford University and studied and taught poetry with June Jordan and her Poetry for the People program at the University of California at Berkeley. jim continues to explore the relationships of sound and gesture in performance. Naomi Shihab Nye NOVEMBER 17, 2000 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER