Gaza goes back to school

A classroom in Shujaiya neighborhood, east of Gaza City, on 4 September.

Basel Yazouri ActiveStills

School is now home and shelter for thousands.
Students are displaced or dead, injured or orphaned.
Teacher throws her body on the children to hide them.
Books are smoke and ashes.

Math is 51 days, 2,200 dead 10,000 injured
Land divided, settlements multiply.

Geography is we make our own map from the river to the sea.

How do you teach justice in an open-air prison?


Gaza, Khan Younis, Jabaliya, Beit Hanoun - still standing.
Beit Lahiya, Deir al-Balah, Bani Suhaila – we’re alive.
Haifa, Yafa, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, Ramallah – present
Al Quds – still here.

Poetry is: No poetry in this.
No song under siege, only little shoes under the rubble.

Beit al-Alami, Beit al-Batsh, Dar Abu Ali– present

All my sisters are dead.

How do you unlearn loss?

Beit Shaaban, Beit Alhajj, Beit Najjar – dead or absent.
Maryam- bullet in the head
Mahdi- still in the hospital
We couldn’t find Yaseen, we couldn’t find Yaseen, we couldn’t find Yaseen.
For 51 days.

How do you teach justice in an open-air prison?

Words on fire. Class is full.

Jehan Bseiso is a Palestinian poet, researcher and aid-worker currently based in Cairo. Follow her @jehanbseiso. Contact her at: Jehan.bseiso AT gmail DOT com.