Regional Programs > Israel & Palestine > Next Story

 Poem to Rachel Corrie
 Hilda Silverman, USA
 March 18, 2003
Whatever words might have been adequate
have become a high fluting cry

like the keening whit-tu-tu
of the unseen bird outside

my window. All day I have been trying
to break free from the bulldozer’s

blade, piled earth, steel treads fracturing
skull and chest, that moment of resistance

and protest, stilled frame reverberating
beyond the moment, like the kid

in Tiananmen Square before the tank.
Her bright orange jacket

and megaphone.
Her kind and tired eyes.

All day I have been pierced
by the high note of helplessness,

the ragged beat of despair.
Shrouded body with its blur of blood.

The quiet hands of mourners
bearing her, flag-sheathed, across the town.


And why was she there?
Ask the ones whose truths she saw

and sought to speak. Ask the child
sitting atop slanting slabs

of concrete, debris of his demolished home.
Ask the husband of the pregnant woman

trapped beneath crushing rubble,
the neighbor’s bulldozed house

bringing their own walls down,
who cradled her toddler as she died.

Ask the families—hundreds
huddled in wind-ripped tents

homes wrecked without warning
to make way for the separation wall.

Ask the ones who aren’t American
and don’t make the morning news.


Whatever words we have are useless
against this cruel weight. The bird’s cry

keens from every crack in the edifice
of history. Before she died, Rachel Corrie wrote

of the privilege granted her, an outsider,
but denied to those under occupation.

"I have a home.
I am allowed to go see the ocean."

Hilda Silverman is a writer and member of Visions of Peace with Justice in Israel/Palestine (VOPJ), an association of Jews in Greater Boston working to promote a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The above poem was written in memory of Rachel Corrie, 23 years old, member of the International Solidarity Movement, killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent demolition of a Palestinian family’s house.