Disputed Ruins (Ours)

Last year, one hilltop community in Galilee was embroiled over a proposal to build new Jewish houses near an old Arab cemetery left abandoned in 1948. As some Jews fought to preserve these sacred ruins in their midst, archaeologists found ruins of a third community—an ancient Jewish village buried beneath the tombstones. 

In a land that devours its inhabitants
dawn breaks
cups and plates
and bones
that are buried in every mountaintop
amidst the roots
in layers.
“They are our shards.” “No ours—”
we argue from our perches
on hills of exile
or return from exile

As we pick among the ruins
we avoid
pots and figurines
kitchen utensils and idolatry
one child’s-breadth above or below
in the tel

Leah Kaplanan artist and writer in Manhattan, spent last year in Jerusalem as a Dorot Fellow, studying at the Pardes Institute and volunteering as an ambulance assistant for Magen David Adom.