Today 25 years ago, on January 17. 1991, Desert Storm started and scud missiles attacked Tel Aviv.
I describe my experiences in Girls Don’t Ride Motorbikes in chapter 11. As a non-fiction writer I use poetry to tackle emotional or difficult subjects, in search of a way to express what I feel and want to convey to the reader. I wrote this poem in preparation for the chapter in my book.
A Sunny Day in Tel Aviv, January 1991
I calculate. If the bomb explodes 100 meters away,
and I run as fast as I can I might live.
If it’s 50 meters, I’m dead.
The Israelis say: Saddam will not dare to attack.
It’s impossible. Tel Aviv was never attacked.
I walk up Shenkin Street,
equipped with my newest possession
neatly packed in a carton box.
A long plastic strap holds it over my shoulder.
I carry it everywhere. My first gas mask.
I could be safe, have a different passport.
But I can’t leave my chosen home.
Why betray my friends? Leave
when it becomes uncomfortable.
Their war becomes my war. I stay.
The Embassy demands for all Germans to evacuate.
My parents call.
Get on an airplane. Get out.
I don’t listen.
The carton box of my gas mask looks kind of plain.
I beautify it with flowers and rainbows
In red, purple, yellow and blue.
The airspace closes. My father pleads:
Take a ferry from Haifa to Greece. Get out. Come home.
This is my home, I say.
You don’t know what war is.
He knows, born in 1929, he does know.
I don’t listen.
January 17th. The ultimatum is up.
I am in my room for rent in an apartment in Tel Aviv.
Music plays, I read, it’s nearly bedtime.
Then doors jam, fast steps run, my door jolts open.
Bombs. My roommates scream. Bombs. We are under attack.
A deep thud next to the house. Holy shit.
Fast fast I put on my gas mask, throw on my rain jacket.
Supposedly that keeps skin from melting in case of gas.
We seal the window and door with plastic sheets and tape.
I suck in air.
Breathing in a gas mask sounds muffled.
A disgusting smell of rubber. Is it gas?
Reports of thunderstorms in Jerusalem on the radio.
No announcement of an attack.
One deep thud after another.
The next bomb could hit our house.
On the radio, nothing.
A bucket to pee in.
I pee every 15 minutes, we all do.
Hours pass. Bombs fall.
My hands are shaky as I pull down my pants.
Awkward, gas mask on, rain jacket on, pants down.
Related Video Clips:
Watch Dorit’s Poetry Reading at WYEP in Pittsburgh. She shares experiences from the years in Israel in her poems Allenby Street and The Burning.
Spiritual Journeys with Dorit – Join Dorit on a journey to Meditation Mount in Ojai, California. Enjoy the spectacular landscape, which inspired the poem ONE.
Visit beautiful Ventura, California & Learn about the Importance of a Positive Thought Current.