Remembering Rim Banna (1966–2018)

Olive Tree
Tawfiq Zayyad (1929 – 1994)
Because I do not knit wool*
Because I am always hunted
And my house is always raided.
Because I cannot own a piece of paper,
I shall carve my memoirs
On the front yard olive tree.
I shall carve bitter reflections,
Scenes of love and yearnings,
For my stolen orange grove
And the lost tombs of my dead.
I shall carve all my strivings
For the sake of remembrance
For the time when I’ll drown them
In the avalanche of triumph
I shall carve the serial number
Of every stolen piece of land
The place of my village on the map
And the blown up houses,
And the uprooted trees
And every bloom that was crushed
And all the names of the experts in torture
The names of the prisons…..
I shall carve dedications
To memories threading down to eternity
To the blooded soil of Deir Yasin
And Kufur Qassem.
I shall carve the sun’s beckoning
And the moon’s whisperings
And what a skylark recalls
At a love deserted well.
For the sake of remembrance,
I shall continue to carve
All the chapters of my tragedy
And all the stages of Al- Nakbah
On the front yard olive tree!
Tawfiq Zayyad (1929 – 1994) was a Palestinian poet and
politician. He was born in Nazareth , Palestine. He is well for his poetry of resistance

In March of 2000 Israeli minister of education Yossi Sarid announces the inclusion of two poems by “Palestinian national poet” Mahmoud Darwish, perhaps the most acclaimed Arab-language poet of the 20th century, in theIsraeli high school curriculum.

This erupted a political firestorm that resulted in Darwish’s poetry being officially banned from Israeli schools, a ban that still in effect, with then- Prime Minister Ehude Barak remarking that his Country wasn’t ready.

Darwish replied

“It’s difficult to believe that the most militarily Powerful country in the Middle East is threatened by a poem”.

The first step of real peace is to know the other side, its culture and creativity.


Here are the two poems




Between Rita and my eyes …

a rifle

And whoever knows Rita

Kneels and prays

To the divinity in her honey-colored eyes.

And I kissed Rita

When she was young

And I remember how she approached

And how my arm covered the loveliest of braids.

And I remember Rita

The way a sparrow remembers its stream …Oh, Rita

Between us there are a million sparrows and images

And many a rendezvous …

Fired at by a rifle.

Rita’s name was a feast in my mouth

Rita’s body was a wedding in my blood

And I was lost in Rita for two years …

and for two years she slept on my arm

And we made promises

Over the most beautiful of cups

And we burned in the wine of our lips

And we were born again …

Ah, Rita!

What before this rifle could have turned my eyes from yours

Except a nap or two or honey-colored clouds

Once upon a time

Oh, the silence of dusk

In the morning my moon migrated to a far place

Towards those honey-colored eyes

And the city swept away all the singers

And Rita.

Between Rita and my eyes…

a rifle.


Think of others

As you prepare your breakfast,

think of others

       (do not forget the pigeon’s food).

As you conduct your wars,

think of others

       (do not forget those who seek peace).

As you pay your water bill,

think of others

      (those who are nursed by clouds).

As you return home, to your home,

think of others

       (do not forget the people of the camps).

As you sleep and count the stars,

think of others

       (those who have nowhere to sleep).

As you liberate yourself in metaphor,

think of others

       (those who have lost the right to speak).

As you think of others far away,

think of yourself and  say:

“If only I was a candle in the dark