At Sea on the Audacity of Hope
By Alice Walker
Reader Supported News
July 2, 2011
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
Sailing the Hot Streets of Athens, Greece
It has been so
Is it hot
where you are?
in a destroyed
The whole world
by its weathers
still is watching
as we yearn
towards each other.
Trying to embrace
to give each
The whole world
& it is
They are making
for us to move
but I remind
of all people
They know this place
we are in
being able to move.
They know it
This place of stalemate
& stagnation, so unbearable
to any heart
is where they
They will forgive
if we do not
having left our
with all my heart
in the magic
and the power
The women & men
& our frustrations.
most of them are
& we are glad
We want them
to see their
& their elders
attempting to make
We pray they
are of good heart
they may never
That a boat
with love letters
is a threat
I have given
my word that I would
and so I do - if not
on our boat
that is not so far
allowed to go
the air sending
thoughts and feelings
We all sail.
We sail the hot, sticky
of Athens, Greece
longing to see
to the people
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
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