Hagar, X Parts
-after Jacques Lipchitz’s Hagar I (1947)
During November of 1917, the British government, with the consent of the United States, issued the Balfour Declaration, which established a national homeland for Jewish peoples in the territory of Palestine. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted 33-13 to partition Palestine in order to found an official Jewish nation-state. Rioting, violence, and gunfire commenced the following day, ushering in the first Arab-Israeli War. Fighting continued for the next two years until a series of armistices halted sanctioned warfare in early 1949.
II. Mother with child,
hand in body of hands unhanding one another
from inside out. Outer ends unfurling
from bronze to bend, from bend to bond,
from bond to both held within hands.
“With”: a togetherness forged in earth
left over, after form, after flood, after mother
with child enter into bodies unhandled
by gestures. Every angle interacting,
an axis collecting volume by light. “Volume is light.”
Awash, awash, awash in curvilinear communitas.
Once more with hands, bending over bodies.
The seven years following the 1949 armistices consisted of border incursions, raids, and economic reprisals, instigated by both Israeli and Arabic governments. On October 10, 1956, Israeli Defense Forces launched an assault on Jordan and, just over two weeks later, began a full-scale military campaign within the nation of Egypt, battling over the land in and around the Sinai Peninsula and the Suez Canal. British and French forces aided Israel in its war efforts. During the conflict, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel all incurred heavy casualties.
IV. Mother for child:
tender touch, tender turn of bronze, alloyed
in arms. A handmaid bears “a wild man”
whose “hand will be against every man.” Hands
against handmaid, bondmaid, from bond to bend,
hands tender touch. Tactile form between angles,
form of light in angles. Angels in the desert
hand down a message: “I will make
of him a great nation.” Surrounding space,
shores of Gaza unfold in form. From form,
a different body in bronze fused
in turn, arms outstretched, bearing witness.
In an effort to create their own nation-state, Palestinian leaders formed the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1965. Two years later, after a series of escalating border skirmishes, Israel launched a preemptive attack upon Arabic forces on June 5, 1967. The invasion, commonly referred to as the Six Day War, entailed the Israeli military entering, once again, Egypt and Jordan, as well as taking armed control of the land occupied by and designated for the Palestinian people, such as the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Europe and the United States provided assistance to Israel, while the former Soviet Union supported the Arabic nations.
VI. Mother in child
compensates for effects of light
with fullness, but fullness as illusion. Surface
forges form, and bronze-light scatters sacrifice
across twisting torsos. Offer bodies inside bodies;
outside, bodies bond to bodies, bend in bronze,
return from tender. Body turns tender into tactile
touch. “In” necessitates boundaries, intersecting
sensations passing from form to form.
Incessant body tender touching. Inception
in sculpture, forged, alloyed, angles in womb
repeating, passing, evermore repeating.
Over the course of the following thirty years, coinciding, approximately, with the Cold War, the United States and Soviet governments provided Israeli and Arabic military operations, respectively, with weapons, munitions, surveillance, tactical support, and economic aid. One historian from the region claimed, cynically, that these efforts turned the area into “a proving ground for [the Super Powers'] latest generation of weapons.” International tensions resulted in both the 1967 War of Attrition and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, as well as a seemingly endless string of retaliatory border conflicts initiated by each side.
VIII. Mother to child,
a missive in the desert sung solemn, sung
soft, before flood, before form, before earth
left over every angle. By arrow, by arch, by way
of water from a well. Hand upon body, body
burdened by space, by Cubist calls for every
angle, sight unseen. A voice and herald cry
to kinship: Why this tender touch from mother
to child? Why this bond of tribe to tribe
between unbodied forces? Why this bend of bronze
and child in repose? A rift, a schism,
an answer unanswered evermore.
In June of 2010, Amnesty International submitted a briefing to the Human Rights Committee, which monitors the welfare of peoples around the world who, among other circumstances, suffer from externally imposed political, economic, and military oppression. The report details Israel’s relations with Palestine, consisting of “violations of the right to equality and non-discrimination; violations of human rights in context of states of emergency; violations of the right to life, to be free from torture…to liberty and security…to freedom of movement…to freedom of conscience…and the right to take part in public affairs.” These infractions constitute just a few of the many violations listed by Amnesty International.
Mother with child, you are “a pattern
of forced evictions, demolitions…and land expropriations.”
Mother for child, you are “detained
without charge or trial for several years.”
Mother in child, you are “artillery shells
containing white phosphorous [launched]
into densely populated residential areas in…Gaza.”
Mother to child, you are “unarmed civilians
who took no part in conflict [yet were] killed by Israeli forces.”
Mother with child, mother for child, mother in child, mother to child.
With for in to. With, for, in, to. With. For. In. To.
Joshua Ware lives in Denver, CO. He is the author of Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley, which won the 2010 Furniture Press Poetry Prize, as well as several chapbooks. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals, such as American Letters & Commentary, Colorado Review, Conduit, New American Writing, and Third Coast.