The Arabs used to say,
when a stranger appears at your door,

feed him for three days.
before asking who he is…

Naomi Shihab Nye, Red Brocade

The night of a thousand stars 
won’t keep you safe 
as you run on desert sands 

Let me tell you about the prophets
yours and mine 
how they listened 
to the poetry 
of the persian lynx 
how they kept each other warm 
night after night 

Blessed be the stranger 

The one you don’t know 
whose body is still 
whose breath is gone 

I have no purpose now 
but to offer you bread, wine
a wet cloth to cleanse your wounds 
you have no purpose now 
but to offer me the same 

How did we end up here 
for a piece of this dry land? 

The night of a thousand stars 
won’t keep you safe 

See the young lovers
holding hands
as the bombs fall

Hear the cry 
of a newborn babe
lifted gently 
out of the rubble

your plate is waiting 

soldiers can’t tell us apart 
our semitic curly hair 
like snakes slithering
down our backs

If only we could stop running

There must be a place
a refugia
where both of us 
are welcome


*Refugia is a scientific term referring to places that become safe spaces for organisms and life to endure in the midst of upheaval.  Kathleen Deane Moore, Great Tide Rising


As the blood flows on the desert lands of Israel and Gaza, I try to remember the tents of long ago where a stranger was welcomed, where tea was served, where survival meant keeping each other fed. I listen to the voice of the desert itself, where olive and lemon trees flourish, to the brave ones who bury their dead and then embrace their so called “enemy” because to lose a child is the same no matter where you live. I believe there is hope if we are willing to sit with each other in our brokenness. and connection to the land.

About the Author

Yehudit Silverman is the former Chair, Department of Creative Arts Therapies, Concordia University, Montreal, She is the author of several articles, Op-eds, and recent book, The Story Within- myth and fairy tale in therapy Jessica Kingsley Publishers. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, her film The Hidden Face of Suicide screened in cinemas, television, and conferences internationally. She received several federal and provincial grants to work on issues around suicide, and interfaith arts dialogue. She directed the Seeds of Hope project in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Artsworking with diverse communities affected by suicide. Since her retirement from the University, she has focussed on writing poetry and an emerging fiction book. A recent poem was published in the anthology, Migrations and Home: The Elements of Place, Published by NatureCulture LLC, and another was published in Tikkun Magazine. She recently bought land in Cape Breton to spend more time with eagles, coyotes, seals, the ocean, and her family.

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