The road and I will sleep
there, next to a cave, over the hill,
then rise at dawn and carry each other
asking: What next? Where are you taking me?
I see the fog, but I don’t see the road,
nor does it see me.
Have I arrived?
Or have I been separated from the road?
I asked myself, then said:
Now, from this distance,
a traveler like me
can look back!
~ Mahmoud Darwish, “The Traveler”
We all need to look back after we have journeyed to or from some place. Sometimes the cast-back eye sees more, despite the blurring effects of memory. I lived in Israel for nearly 5 years, and still it is a mystery. So, like Darwish’s traveler, I look back in time, scanning old photos for a clue, riffling through pixels as if they were postcards.
What is written on the reverse side of these images? What is written in the crevasses I didn’t explore? In the questions I didn’t ask? The photos don’t say. So I try to content myself with the unknown and unanswered. Maybe the mystery of a land or people is like the dark side of the moon. Maybe beauty is only possible if we can’t compass its full scope.
The Dome of the Rock, a site holy to Christians, Muslims, and Jews
A Palestinian boy in a refugee camp near Ramallah.
Arafat “drowning” in melons
Carmel Market, Tel Aviv – like Ali Baba’s cave.
Male versions of the Fates, sitting on a bench, people-watching.
Another bike, this one in a Bethlehem refugee camp.