Sometimes life gets in the way of documenting life.
Category Archives: Preston Hartwick
When I close my eyes I don’t see darkness
My eyes don’t blindly meet moist pink blankets,
They roll back in their sockets
To feast on a dream,
Which sometimes can be tasty
In that murmuring silence
Where sleeping dogs lie,
Shy shadows shiver within shared shrouds
A flock of mute blackbirds hang suspended on the dawn
Leaving a trail of reverie,
Of minuet pianissimos,
Strung between feather yawns
Since the year 2000: approx. 123 Israeli children and 1,435 Palestinian children have been killed
approx. 1,072 Israelis and 6,348 Palestinians have been killed
approx. 8,864 Israelis and 39,019 Palestinians have been injured
During the fiscal year 2009: the U.S. provides $7.0 million taxpayer dollars per day towards the support of the Israeli government and military
1: number of Israeli political prisoners being held by the Palestinians
10,756: number of Palestinian prisoners being held by the Israelis, many of whom have had no chance at a trial
18,147: number of Palestinian homes demolished by the Israeli military
223: number of illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land
This is not fiction.
A year or two ago I had the chance to visit Israel. It is a beautiful country full of beautiful people, but I had no idea that I was so close to one of the most brutal occupations in modern history; the occupation of Palestinian land by Israel. I just watched the documentary Occupation 101, and was appalled by the terrible violence being committed on both sides of the border.
It is hard to determine who exactly ‘started’ the conflict, but this is an immature approach to the situation anyway. If both sides are going to play tit-for-tat, then why is the number of Palestinian casualties so disproportionally high in comparison to Israel’s? I hesitate to point the finger in either direction so early in my serious exploration of the issue, but I do believe that the Palestinian people have suffered great injustices with far less representation than the Israeli people. While I know that it would be wrong to compare the occupation to the Holocaust, I still find it horrifying that a people who truly know what suffering is would inflict the same torture on others. When will we learn that acts of violence only further perpetuate the cycle of violence?
I encourage everyone to watch this documentary and research the issue for themselves. While the documentary is admittedly biased in favor of the Palestinians, we get enough pro-Israeli propaganda from the American media, and bias does not discount the facts or the personal stories of suffering told by Palestinian children, which were extremely moving and powerful.
I selected a few images from my trip that captured some of the strong emotions I felt in the country.
s o u n d / noise
I sit down on the curb
watching people walk, run, trip, but not live.
I live, but sheepishly, like a toad waiting to cross.
thoughts wriggle around in my stomach dreaming that one day they too
can be born from the superior womb we named the mouth to join this random
gum-ball machine life where nothing sense makes. zig-zags.
i’m going into labor and I’m not even a woman thank God. God this hurts.
writhing hoarsely my quick thoughts demand to be birthed and leap into the traffic of speeding opinions – so i do.
and it’s true – this toad is
We found it there in the shadow of that tunnel, just as we had found it in other things along the way. I had sensed it the moment I stepped off the cool airplane carpet and onto the city’s hot streets – or at least, I had sensed its absence – and I looked down at my chest and saw for the first time the erosion that threatened to cave my ribcage in and bury my heart in my stomach. I had always hoped that it would stick around forever – but I think I lost it somewhere in the shadows under my bed. So I began my search, foraging through the mossy air and fish-markets to find what I had lost. If I was vigilant, I would catch glimpses of it in the heat waves and steam wafting off the top of a bowl of noodles. I caught sight of it in dumplings. Or in other things, in festivals and glowing lanterns. In dilapidated apartment buildings. In the musty temples or in the porn on sidewalk newstands. In the concrete. In the noise. In the humidity. In the incense. I’m telling you this so you can keep your own chest from collapsing. I’m telling you this so you know.
It can be a tricky thing, losing your sense of home.
It can be downright, shit in your pants terrifying. So there we were, paralyzed, dangling from the precarious balance beam of hope and hopelessness, and staring hard into the twilight of that tunnel. When I said earlier that we found it there in the shadow of that tunnel, I guess that wasn’t really God-honest truth. You can’t really find a thing like this just like that. but in the echo of my frantic cry, I felt it. Maybe I just needed to hear it in my own voice, as if the answer to my quest was whispered into my ear by a phantom draft that drifted from the curved outline of the tunnel. Maybe you wouldn’t have been able to hear it, or it’s something you haven’t lost because it was never had, or you’re too far around the bend to even care anymore. Maybe I’m just a jealous lover coming back to find that life here has gone on without me. Maybe we’ve got too much history to give it up. I love you Hong Kong.
“…the end of our exploring,
Will be to arrive where we started,
And know the place for the first time.”
– T.S. Eliot