“oh rafah, aching rafah” - A poem from the journal of Rachel Corrie

Peace activist Rachel Corrie at Burning Man.

A child in Rafah (Photo: Ronald de Hommel)

oh rafah. aching rafah. aching of refugees aching of tumbled houses bicycles severed from tank-warped tires and aching of bullet riddled homes all homes worm-eaten by bullets and then impregnated through bullet holes by birds.

oh rafah. aching fingers of rafah. children born without fingers and fathers
unable to travel the 20 or 30 miles to Gaza to repair their children’s
fingers. clawed knuckles from old gunshots bandaged fingers and slimy small
poking fingers between puffy lips of children - slobbery and wondering and
blinking like all children - but fingers patting and tapping at strange big
hands amidst the music of shelling and the constant anonymous night vision
telescope of murder above and beyond and around and even inside. fingers
cracked crusts of spackle concrete fingers of the endless rebuilding of
things crashed: home.

home. oh rafah. aching homes of rafah. home of the rafah camp rafah grown
permanent with the names of the countries that paid for the neighborhoods
still attached. home of rafah unleavable. homes stickered with glow in the
dark stars in teenager’s rooms. homes constructed over a lifetime and
unraveled in the night. ache of rubble and weedy rebar craning out of
concrete boulders. ache of ghost homes looming without volume without mass straddling this wall and this wasteland the wall demands. ache of dinners knees and haunches kneeling dinners spread over floors in the music of gunfire the irregular heartbeat of the border and living-dead homes waiting immobile for bulldozers and tanks and the shattering of tea glasses the bending of rebar the tumbling of concrete and the ejection of people: baby. grandmother. small girl curling her entire small hand around one big finger. teenage boy with teenage boy legs and teenage boy laugh ejected into rubble and homelessness and scattered if not killed.

oh rafah. aching rafah. children of rafah exploded. children of rafah
deafened: deafened to tank wheels. deafened to explosions gunshot music
shocking claps drones.

Journal entry
Rachel Corrie
Rafah, Gaza Strip
February 2003
Copyright ©2003

Related links

  • BY TOPIC: Israel’s “Operation Rainbow” in Rafah, Gaza
  • BY TOPIC: Rachel Corrie, Peace Activist
  • Video: Cindy Corrie reads her daughter’s poem as they accept the first ever Rachel Corrie Activist Award at ADC conference

    Rachel Corrie was a 23-year-old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah on 16 March 2003, while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a a Palestinian doctor, his wife, and three children from demolition. Please contact the Corrie family at rachelsmessage@the-corries.com for permission to reprint.

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