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July 2011, Week 1

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Sat, 2 Jul 2011 16:26:27 -0400
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At Sea on the Audacity of Hope

By Alice Walker
Reader Supported News
July 2, 2011

http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/289-134/6464-at-sea-on-the-audacity-of-hope

    Alice Walker posted the article and poem below on 
    the Facebook page US BOAT TO GAZA. The page has 
    recently been updated to announce: "Our boat's 
    captain has been put in jail, charged with 
    disturbing sea traffic - which includes 
    endangering the lives of those on the ships - 
    and disobeying a police order to remain at dock. 
    The crew is being detained on the boat, which 
    is being held at a military dock just outside 
    Athens. Most of the 36 passengers remain on the 
    ship in solidarity with the captain and crew." 
    For further updates, videos and pictures click 
    here: http://www.facebook.com/USBOATTOGAZA -- CW/RSN

Today is, I think, the 31st of June (Friday?) or is it
the 1st of July?

We have been in Athens since the 21st - trying to get
to Gaza. Many impediments orchestrated by the Israeli
government. But what a wonderful group of humans.

Therefore: We've won. We're in Gaza. To be in Gaza is
to feel this love. To know there is always a part of
humanity that is awake even though the overburdened or
the bewitched remain sleeping.

My throat is sore from breathing the tear gas that
drifted into our hotel windows, as Greeks, mostly
young, battle police, their brothers and sisters who
are paid to keep them in line. This is the tragedy. I
feel so much compassion for both sides my eyes tear and
not only from the gas.

It was hard to breathe. My lungs were fighting hard to
protect me. How I adore them, my lungs. And so many of
our group tried to protect us, my lungs and me, too. A
lovely young man named Steve gave me his own gas mask
and someone else, a beautiful young woman with straw
colored hair and blue gray eyes gave me the benefit of
her knowledge of how to wear it.

I do not like calling such angels "blonde" as I feel
the word is so loaded now and it sets them outside of
Nature and somehow diminishes them.

I spent a blissful hour yesterday massaging Hedy's
feet. She has the most wonderful gray eyes - full of
humor and light. She'd never had a foot massage before,
she said. And she is eighty-seven! Hard to imagine.

Hedy, I said - when she told everyone who passed by us:
"I'm being spoiled" - I have a full body massage at
least once a week!

This was a high point for me, as it is well established
by now in myself and among my friends, that I like to
massage the feet of anyone who stands up for us.
Humanity, I mean.

Or the other animals.

Hedy, holocaust survivor, inhaling the gas in Greece,
but even more poignant, anticipating being tear gassed
by the Israelis who are doing everything they can to
threaten our boat.

I have no computer - they said not to bring one on the
boat because it would likely by destroyed or
confiscated - only this small notebook in which I have
been avoiding writing the poem that starts and stops in
my head:

Sailing the Hot Streets of Athens, Greece

It has been so
hot!
Is it hot
where you are?
Penned up
in a destroyed
place?
In Gaza?

The whole world
distracted
by its weathers
& other
disasters
still is watching
us,
Gaza,
as we yearn
towards each other.

Trying to embrace
each other
to give each
other,
to ourselves
united,
a simple
hug.

The whole world
is watching
Gaza
& it is
wondering how
things
will
turn out.

They are making
it hard
for us to move
Gaza
& sometimes
we are
in despair
but I remind
us
that you
of all people
understand
obstruction.

They know this place
we are in
of not
being able to move.
They know it
intimately.
This place of stalemate
& stagnation, so unbearable
to any heart
that's free
is where they
hourly
live.

They will forgive
us
if we do not
arrive
on time.

Furthermore,
having left our
own homes
we are
already
there.

I believe
with all my heart
in the magic
and the power
of intention.

The women & men
with cameras
come
to record
our dreams
& our frustrations.
most of them are
young
& we are glad
of this.

We want them
to see their
counterparts
& their elders
attempting to make
this voyage
to endure
this crossing.

We pray they
are of good heart
& balanced
mind.
Even
the spies
among them
we hope
will learn
something
they may never
have guessed
before:

That a boat
filled
with love letters
from children
is a threat
to those
with
apparently
little memory
of youth
or experience
of love.

I have given
my word that I would
sail
and so I do - if not
on our boat
that is not so far
allowed to go
to sea,
then through
the air sending
thoughts and feelings
I sail:
We all sail.
We sail the hot, sticky
streets
of Athens, Greece
longing to see
the faces
& deliver
love letters
to the people
of Gaza.

Written on our beautiful boat whose canopy is a giant
peaceful American flag, as we sail the waters off the
coast of Greece and are intercepted by the Greek coast
guard.

___________________________________________

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