Twisting and turning, on the dark, desolate drive into the unknown at night,
Exhausted enough to sleep despite the overwhelming fright.
Wheels turning, brakes burning, rocks slipping and sliding,
Will the roots of that great tree above release from their hiding?
The blubbering and reeking of alcohol from three wise men,
In a language that I cannot understand,
Becoming even more grateful to be an American lady,
In a land of patriarchy and dominant men.
Coming to our first stop, pushing and pulling and grabbing at will,
I am not free anywhere, but less free here.
My husband cannot stop them for fear of his own life.
He may be larger, but they higher in number, a detriment to protecting his wife.
The introduction to this foreign land is over,
We are now initiated as we all aboard.
The road into the unknown becomes less certain,
The more that it is known.
POP, POP, POP, and the sound of shattering glass.
Our watchdog, the conductor, responds in a constrained flash.
Moving down the road, much more slowly now,
Urging the slippery rocks to remain in the road’s grasp.
Pulling into town at the break of dawn,
Light shed on the rock storm by the troops and their machine gun nests,
The rocks were slipping from the hands of rebels in an impassioned thrust.
It wasn’t the tires at all that created the fuss.
Batons twirling, hitting the bus,
Attacked twice in an hour by both the “rebels” and those meant to protect us.
Dropped off at the curb, like unwanted trash, to be picked through and chosen by the touts who only want cash.
Carried swiftly away, a deal has been struck.
Everything is open for negotiation and it’s not a game of luck.
But Lady Luck was there as we boarded the boat,
Our own handsome president, Barack Obama, was keeping her afloat.
A sigh of relief as Americans in this Muslim land at war.
To see his face, there were no words,
Only tears fell from my eyes,
As my husband laughed and took a deep sigh.
We were left alone to settle in and unpack our things,
But settled, you see, we would never be,
My husband a Jew, and me a blonde female,
In this hostile land at war, obviously.
Keeping our silence, we tried to relax,
And enjoy our Kashmiri tea in the parlor,
The Jhelum River behind and beneath us,
Our new home, temporarily, a safe harbor.
The man who brought our tea,
About our age in fact,
Had worked for this family for many years,
His family’s lineage, since he was a boy.
Found out we were American and began his deploy.
Ranting and raving in a most reserved way,
His loyalty to this family keeping us safe.
He wanted to kill us, to wipe our names from this Earth clean,
All because of a “movie” we hadn’t heard of or seen.
We didn’t know the artist, and neither did he,
But the propaganda of his Brothers created an unquenchable thirst,
We knew democracy was on the line,
So we attempted to converse.
We spoke of the First Amendment,
And the Right to Free Speech,
The right to Freedom of Religion,
And of Press,
That the making of a movie,
No matter its content, does not warrant death.
It was not that he did not hear,
It was that he could not understand,
For these rights and freedoms do not exist for him,
Nor have they ever,
Even as a man.
I could not speak there in that land,
And I could not share my views,
Not only was I American,
But a woman too.
So I tell my story here,
Where I can speak my mind,
And I leave my message to him,
Human to Human Kind.
Brother, I do not want to see you the way you see me,
Even though, I know, you want to kill me.
For when I’m not sure of what to do or what to say,
I try to remember that we all bleed the same way.
Leaving the Garden of Eden after being trapped for three days,
Holding my breath, anticipating the exhale, and more familiar ways,
A place of such great beauty, so war torn and gasping for air,
The breath only coming from the Goddess and her devotees there.
As we make it through the Kashmir Valley,
My body begins to release,
But not the prayers that I am holding,
Please, someday, may the Goddess and Her land find Peace.
I turn to you now, there is no time to waste,
Some of these feelings triggered again, in our own time and place,
Can’t you see our Freedom is being threatened,
Even in our own great United States?
First Amendment Rights,
Freedom of Speech, Religion and Press,
Women’s right to have/not have,
A baby suckle at their breasts.
Walls being placed where the eye can no longer roam free,
How is it, Mr. Trump, that you,
And your proposed Cabinet,
Bewildered and in awe,
I will put one foot in front of the other,
Marching in the name of solidarity,
For my Sisters and my Brothers.
I hope the kids will know and one day understand,
I marched for them so they will have freedom in this great land.
I bow in deep Gratitude to those who did it for me,
Since I have learned that Freedom is not, but should be free.
I now turn to the message received from the Divine,
Focus on the Blessings and Peace that abound on this Earth,
May all humans everywhere find this place,
The spiraling inward of unwavering Grace.
With All the Love in My Heart,
Tammy Minton Gitter