today i do such simple things |  jim saliba


i get up
i take a hot steamy shower
wash away the night
i do not run out of water
the water does not bypass my home
on the way
up the hill
to my neighbors
the water runs into my house
washes over my skin
and drips into my open mouth

today i walk downtown to mail an express letter
no one stops me
no one asks me for a pass
i walk to work
no barricades block me
and if i wanted to go and buy a used car
and if i had a son
and i wanted to take my son
to look at
and maybe buy
a used car
i would not worry
we would go and look
at the car
i would not have to search for a concrete barrel
for us to hide behind
i would not have to stop the bullets
with no weapons nothing only my hand
reaching up and waving and shouting
the child the child
to stop them
before they shoot my son
and kill him
i would not worry
because today no one questions
my right to live on this land

we would go and see the car
and if we wanted
we would buy the car
and drive home

today i do such simple things
although today is yom kippur
no one locks me in my house
or barricades my street
i get up and go to work
i earn money to pay rent and buy food
and soap
and postage for the letter
i work on computers
no one questions my religion
or my ethnicity for my job
i do not have to work as a waiter or a builder
but if i chose to work as a waiter or a builder
or on computers
i could work today
no matter whose religious holiday it is
today they would not close my street
or lock me in my neighborhood
because today no one claims
a 3000 year old text makes it right
to throw me out of my home
to take away my land
to say there go to canada
let the canadians take you in

nobody questions my right to work
and to shower
and to eat
and to look at
and even to buy
a used car

today i do such simple things
i hear the birds sing in the tree outside my window
i take a hot steamy shower
my neighbors up the hill do not take all the water for themselves
so i have water to wash and to drink today
i walk downtown and go to work
and if i want
i will go
to look at
and maybe buy
a used car
and if i had a son
i would take him
and i would not worry
my son would not press into my side
to hide from the bullets
and they would not shoot him in his belly
and he would not

jim saliba 10/9/2000
first published in The Texas Observer in November 2000

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