Today, my prison is my cellphone
Trapped under the rubble of photos and videos
Of Palestinian children trapped under the rubble.
Of teenage boys who look like my brother
Carrying dead teenage boys who look like my brother.
What you call defense
Is the destruction of generations
Of land older than time
Of fruit of zeitoun, of Arabic coffee
Land that births holy life
Even as the world tells them
Or rather, I’m not eating
Because no matter what or how much I eat
My body still feels empty.
“Look! Look what we can do to you,”
Shouts the state.
“Look! Look how we can reduce your life to nothing,”
Whisper the media.
They can’t obliterate me with bombs so they try
to obliterate me into silence.
Look at you, terrorist
Says the man on television.
I was 9 years old
I turn off the TV
I begin typing into Google, “Are Palestinians terrorists?”
The phrase auto populates before I finish.
They say, in between dropping white phosphorous bombs
That light up the darkness of an unlit Gaza.
No electricity, no internet, no food, no water, no leaving,
Who controls the Gaza Strip? Hamas?
I wonder what terrorism looks like to
Who do they see on TV?
Bombarding them with bombs and justifications
You tell us we are paying for our sins.
Did you intend to pay for yours?
I think about the first time I ever saw mass
desecration of human life on television.
It was a movie about the Holocaust.
I never forgot it. I vowed to myself that I
Be a person who said nothing.
I could not believe the stories of those who
Kept Jewish children alive in cupboards
Preserving life alongside preserved jams
That were allowed to rattle
More so than a child.
I think about African ancestors,
Who, after building an entire country
Built underground railroads to freedom
Since they could not walk it above.
I think about how indigenous peoples in America
Diluted to less than 1 percent
Through the wicked poison of colonialism
Continue to protect the land
Continue to teach life.
While I write this, I get a text from my dad:
“Israel is now using the most extensive bombing
they’ve ever used in/outside of Gaza City.
Continuous heavy bombing. There will be hundreds
and thousands of Palestinian deaths that come from this.”
“CNN is filming it live,” he adds.
There is no time to feel small
A small child in Gaza is killed at the equivalent
Of once every 10 minutes.
One for the time it takes to make my breakfast in the morning.
Two for my shower
Three for my run
Thousands in my sleep.
Leila M. Aruri is a student of midwifery and family nurse practice at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.