Cherries From the War

Blonde and perfumed is my neighbor and her husband is a colonel.
She is not to blame.
I lead her through the clutter of children and out to the patio.
“Come, have some cherries,” I urge her.
“My husband brought them Monday, from the war.”

Fat and dark red are the cherries,
Cold and sweet in the heat of the city summer.
Dark red and elegant my neighbor’s nails
As she sits on my patio and smokes and nibbles cherries.

Surely no redder
Than the warm blood watering green cedars and sweet orchards,
Than the smoke-stung eyes of the homeless women who weep
Only two hours from my neighbor’s home and mine.

Blonde and laughing is my neighbor and her husband is a colonel
In a headquarters behind a desk, and every night at home.

Not for her the tears of the hopeless women-
No, nor the sweetness beyond all words
Of scratchy green khaki for half an hour at midnight,
And a bag of cherries to eat slowly, slowly,
Knowing they will be long gone before he comes again. 

Sharon Neemani, born in Philadelphia, has been living in Israel since 1970, and is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A self-employed writer and translator, she is married, has four children and a foster child, and defines herself as “strongly women-identified” and her life as “founded on joy”.