Baba Ghanouj

Benjamin Oppedijk

I too drank in the beauty of the lovers’ hills,

Wandered, wondered, amid red-shingled roofs,

I too beheld the sun-soaked stone –

the city wrapped in the tongue of history.


I had thought that the breaths I took went further than my mouth,

The food I ate, not just to my stomach but to my soul.

The steps I took, further, deeper, into myself,

And not just down the road.


But how can I claim this connection in the face of your anger?

When all I have done is listened to them say

“You love Israel”, as they patted me on the shoulder,

Their medicine to soothe a young person’s tender mind.


A medicine that turns to poison when exposed to truth.

A poison that pulses through the veins of young men like myself,

Young men with faces paralysed with the venom,

The ones that hurt you.


With my back to the truth I cheer it on – oh the injustice!

But I cringe and retch when my face is pressed against its armpit.

Your armpit.

Or are yours the pits of all your people?


While your cracked hands claim this soil

I claim only the lessons of its memories,

I could never become this place

As you have attempted to become it


I wish you would share your baba ganouj with me,

But only for a little while.


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