Claudia Rankine


When I remember this story a half a year later it is
because of its detail of correction. The fact that
Ariel Sharon wishes to exile Yasir Arafat from
Palestine immediately pulls this mis-equation from
my memory.

You think the A stands for location, but it
stands for function.

Sharon’s desire to exile Arafat allows me to feel
tender toward Sharon. I think of him waking in the
middle of the night, after he has slept enough to feel
almost awake. I think of him waking into this
thought, a thought that strips the Israeli/ Palestinian
conflict of all its complexities. Simply separate
Arafat from his people. I see him forgetting that
Arafat is already exiled, that he himself in the eyes
of some is also in a state of exile. Sharon’s solutio
n is so simple it makes me want to touch his face.

Arafat exiled. It is not a reasonable wish.
Eventually Colin Powell will tell Sharon this.
Arafat is the legitimate, recognized leader of the
Palestinians. He is also not every Palestinian who
believes in his right of return. He is not every
person who still holds on his person the keys to his
former home. Arafat is not the leader of Hamas.
But at some hour, for Sharon, the security of Israel
rests within a body and its location. At some hour
Sharon feels the desperation of displacement as a
devastation, an impotence. He works it out, and at
some hour Arafat’s location as alien, as exile, is to
be Sharon’s greatest contribution to peace in the
Middle East, greater than any function he
presently serves.


On the bus two women argue...
A friend tells me this story...
My grandmother is in a nursing home...
My grandmother tells me...

© 2005 Electronic Poetry Review