Selected by Bunkong Tuon, Poetry Editor

Anita Lerek: “Bread, Oct 7”

Bread, Oct 7

A choreopoem in voices of two cities

Beit Lahia is a city in northern Gaza
Kfar Aza is an Israeli kibbutz close to Gaza


Kfar Aza
Locked here in a room
with my girlfriend. We eat bread,
the soft, braided Sabbath kind.
It rises inside us like a fortress.

Beit Lahia
Roaring birds tear up the skies
aiming for human prey. I feel already
the hunger that will come.

I must find bread before it is too late.
The bakery doors are barred—
bread erased by scuffles and ghosts of want.
I return home with chicken, cucumbers,
and half-dead avocados. No bread.

Kfar Aza
What is happening, Mummy,
where are you?

Beit Lahia
The rockets are flying the other way.
No one can believe that our men
penetrated the body of Israel,
destroyed and took people away.
When will they come after us?

Kfar Aza
Grandmother was shot
and killed. I am in a safe room.

Beit Lahia
Before the Israeli revenge,
before the darkness, and the shooting
hosannas, I will slip out to the store
again for some bread.



Kfar Aza
There’s shouting outside,
and shooting . . .
a car beeps all the time . . .
I don’t understand what’s going on . . .
Mummy, they’re outside my apartment.

Beit Lahia
I am terrified.

Kfar Aza
We are afraid.

Kfar Aza
Our mouths move in this sealed
space of breads and hungers
for olive, grape orchards,
bicycle pathways, watermelons
and cucumbers.
Falling into fleshy shrubs,
we belong here, here,
singing each other.



Mummy, they’re inside—

Shots are fired. Grenade, pin pulled,
try one, try two, three.
The bread is ready.
He swaddles the warmth,
the girl. Bitter autumn sun
explodes everything in its way
but the terrified flower
behind the dead seed—
lying still under the bed
waiting to come up.

Beit Lahia
The bombs finally fall. A sliced home
displays its secrets of computer monitor,
oil lamp, onions, bedsprings
as roadkill.

I see the flash of an explosion.
That means I am alive
to keep cratering words
in underground fields
row upon row
of barley and wheat gods
where I belong.

I return home to my angelfish,
chamber burst.
I drop him in the garbage,
and slice the last of the bread.


Author’s Note: Inspiration came from an Opinion article authored by Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha (The Washington Post). I am grateful to journalists Stewart Bell (Global News) and Colin Freeze (Globe and Mail) for their coverage of the death of Canadian, Netta Epstein. Thanks to journalist Alan Cowell (New York Times) for Gaza coverage. The aim of this poem is to strike an existential truth rather than offer journalistic exactitude.

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