Monday, February 28, 2011

Golan: The Monologue You Won't See at "Subject to Change"

The following is a dramatic monologue which I edited for performance under the guidance of the board of "Subject to Change," a student group here at Penn Law School that produces a show consisting of student/faculty/staff-written monologues, performed by students. The monologue was not selected for performance. The reason for this rejection, I am told, is because the monologue is too "poetic" and "cerebral," "dense" and "difficult to understand," and not enough of a "story" which "people can easily follow when listening." I leave it to you to decide.

It’s 2002.
I’m traveling along the banks of the Sea of Galilee, in the shadow of the Golan Heights – a mountainous region Israel conquered from Syria during the Six Day War, and later annexed.

A sardonic statue of the Syrian Prime Minister Bashar al-Assad sits with a rod by the sea and fishes.
Assad wants to fish in my lake.
“No Arab swims in my sea”:
The Sea of Galilee.

Summer sun melts the shores.
Palms stand in rows in lines like dates
where empty olive grove chair waits plastic in the shade.

This long road
got dust spread along the air
which tastes of ancient moisture.
It’s a languid Tiberias evening.
Yellow afternoon.
Yellow water.
Starving grass creeps along the dust:
long hot yellow dust,
Wave at Assad as a tourist takes a picture of his statue.
A reminder:
“No Arabs in my sea.”

White marks in metal.
This old car. Moves.
My friend Gedaliah has lent it indefinitely. I'm moving
near his old soul. He is dead
and I am living and that is fair by God,
by God this life is fair. At least true.
At least I'm alive
with dirt in my lungs
my feet out the window
wave to the sea. Hello.

This car is moving, the reeds are by the side;
Sea of Reeds, see
a knick Gedaliah made for me
before he was exploded in Jenin.

Gedaliah’s cousin Jed is in the driver’s seat.
Jed says stop so we can swim,
and we can swim here despite the sign:
all signs say no.
We've stopped by a bank of the Sea of Galilee
where lovers litter the shore.
Men in cotton underwear shout
and spit as they come up.
Murky murky shore.
I sink in the shore. Bubbles come up from the muck.
Old muck air between my toes
tickles my legs and pops.

Back during the Peace Process, this sea receded; did you know this sea fell?
Yard by yard it sank in a long drought.
Jordan laughed and Turkey too.
And tall trees grew by the shore
where deep waves once rolled.
Then last winter, a little miracle occurred.
Extraordinary rainfall filled the sea, pushing the shoreline up into the vegetation.

Have you ever seen a sunken tree?
In murky yellow water-air I swim, I see the shore
and remark:
“It’s deep here. Too deep for reeds. This is not the Sea of Reeds.
This is the Sea of Galilee filled with trees.”

I'm swimming in six feet of water,
where the tops of trees sway in and out with the waves.
Trees eight feet tall, swaying in the waves.
I wonder will they drown,
now that the water’s risen.
Will we drown in these rising seas?

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