Saturday, February 7, 2009

the stonecutter's wife: a life in poetry

This is maybe my favorite of Kohleun's poems. The reasons are many. For one, I was with her when she met this family in Bethlehem, and her words call the experience to mind with a clarity that is sacred in its power. There was so much beauty in that home. So much hope. And yet, at the same time, so much pain. The courage of this woman and her family -- to create beauty in the face of violence -- will always awe me. She is the person, the peacemaker, that I want to be.

I posted my reflection on the experience (in prose poetry) a couple of months ago: Bethlehem: the things that made me cry [the stonecutter's family]


one we carve
to build upon
the other
each boulder
by hand
and lay it
piece by piece
my husband
and I

there was a time when this all laid flat against the earth
when bulldozers ripped the house apart, twice
nothing as gentle as piece by piece
no patient sculpture’s mallet and chisel
One by one, they take my boys from me
a soldier their same age will go home
and tell his mother about capturing another
Palestinian threat, and she will thank God he is safe

and I will sit here
in my house of stone
preparing for
lives of my life
who have not returned
five hundred years?
I will wait that long
unto death?
I will rebuild
something beautiful
out of rubble
serve them tea
in clear glass
with sugar
and mint
I will stir it slowly

-Kohleun A. Seo

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