Anna Fuerstenberg
[Anna Fuerstenberg was born in a refugee camp in Stuttgart Germany, came to Canada as a child and won a scholarship to theater school when she was eight. It changed her life. She has been produced in film television and theater, and was the artistic director of the bi-lingual Teatro Sin Fronteras in Toronto and the Theater Plant. She writes, directs, performs, teaches, and occasionally has time to muse].


Oh you, who remember Jerusalem too well,

Wash sacred rock with your tears,

Whether exile has chosen you or not,

Do not sing of her to one who has seen

A stone is no more than it is.

Oh you, who yearn for Yerevan,

Dream empires dead on Byzantine spears,

Do not weep your anguished music

For I have shut my ears.

Oh you lament for Valparaiso,

Beat breasts and break hearts,

I have lost patience with your fears.

Why stand bowed beneath the footfalls of history,

Dwell in Fata Morganas on treacherous sand?

This is Exile. Fine, embrace her.

Build your damned cities here, where you stand.

If you forget Jerusalem or Yerevan,

It is to build new Valparaisos, frail, green.

Omnivorous hordes threaten from the north, (always from the north.)

My body is a small, caked lime brick in the crooked dam built against the deluge.

We bear all the Diasporas

Bound in bloody pasts

Linked in irremediable loss.

Exile is forever,

Elsewhere become so vast.


Tourists are not welcome here

There are no rooms left

The traffic is awful.

Tourists tear up the terrain

Litter the gardens

Walk on the lawns.

A damned nuisance !

They consume the best,

Leave dregs and detritus,

A bad smell !

Tourists speak the language little

Understand less, misread signs

Complain about minor discomforts.

They are laughing at us,

Pointing at our lives,


My life cannot accommodate

Even one more tourist.

Misuse space and time

Then flit on to other

Beauty spots and exotica.

These borders are closed now,

Without diplomatic negotiations!

get darker. the future holds little light.

my baby brother is a man now, and on alert, and praying five times a

day that the orders he will take in a few days time are righteous and

will not weigh his soul down from the afterlife he deserves.

both my brothers - my heart stops when i try to pray - not a beat to

disturb my fear. one a rock god, the other a sergeant, and both

palestinian, practicing muslim, gentle men. both born in brooklyn

and their faces are of the archetypal arab man, all eyelashes and

nose and beautiful color and stubborn hair.

what will their lives be like now?

over there is over here.

7. all day, across the river, the smell of burning rubber and limbs

floats through. the sirens have stopped now. the advertisers are

back on the air. the rescue workers are traumatized. the skyline is

brought back to human size. no longer taunting the gods with its height.

i have not cried at all while writing this. i cried when i saw those

buildings collapse on themselves like a broken heart. i have never

owned pain that needs to spread like that. and i cry daily that my

brothers return to our mother safe and whole.

there is no poetry in this. there are causes and effects. there are

symbols and ideologies. mad conspiracy here, and information we will

never know. there is death here, and there are promises of more.

there is life here. anyone reading this is breathing, maybe hurting,

but breathing for sure. and if there is any light to come, it will

shine from the eyes of those who look for peace and justice after the

rubble and rhetoric are cleared and the phoenix has risen.

affirm life.

affirm life.

we got to carry each other now.

you are either with life, or against it.

affirm life.


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