Not the Same As the Golan

   The gooseberries were wide as 5 shekel coins, 
   the veins x-ray clear.  Some were pale green, some 
   splashed with red, plumped for picking.  Thorns 
   got my ankles, elbows and down my thigh. After an hour 
   I had to straighten up,  wipe my face; the Golan sun 

   poured over me.  I  thought of jams and  fruit muffins, 
   moved on to taller bushes. Blueberries grew dusty 
   as they purpled, tipped with crowns, like a pomegranateís cap. 
   Near me people laughed and ate sandwiches.  Not since 
   the Kolchoz, 8 years since the Datchah 

   the woman said, filling a big basket; the sun snapped 
   at the gold as she smiled.  Berries are my homeland. 
   You canít blame me for being excited, she said, patting her crop 
   as though it was a child. I turned to other berries so 
   slight I had to pull one by one.  Took me well past noon 
   to get a handful.  I watched how the Russians picked 

   looking for memories in the fruit.  Years ago I picked berries 
   on the way to Falcon Lake, along the highway 
   put them into pies. Not the same as the Golan, where 
   signs warn: 

   Losing the Golan is losing the country. 
   Leaving the Golan is leaving home 

   The Russians gather memories and 
   I see where the land really is. 

- Rochelle Mass

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