I suppose I must have been eleven
and that being eleven must have been, somehow, twenty years ago
because I remember, vaguely, being in school
on a warm day, the trees outside the window blossoming
and hearing that a nation was founded fifty years before

When I was eleven, my father was fifty-one
which means he was one year old when Israel was born
and it was five years old when he moved there
and when he was eleven, that was where he lived

I have never been to Israel
which the news tells me is now celebrating seventy
my father just celebrated seventy-one, in November
which means either my math is off
or months are playing tricks with years

Dad moved back to the States when he was thirteen
and Israel was, say, eleven
and when my father was eighteen or so
Israel lost his faith and heart
and gained a small strip of land across the river

It’s tough to know what it is that I am
or who my Dad is, or what Israel means to us
and how that binds and separates us from each other
and from other people

My heart’s home will never be in a nation
that invades other nations
but I’ve learned a lot about what trauma can do
and known others who felt the need to stay armed
and alert, and make sure the world saw them strong
and who felt owed for what they’d been through
and I don’t know that it’s my place
to say they’re wrong

But it’s not how I think about healing

I think I want to go to Israel

I want to go there with my dad
and learn what it was like when he was six
and when he was eleven
and when he was eighteen, or nineteen
and when he was thirty-one, as well

I care about my father
much more than I care
about Israel

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