From Alice Walker, at sea on the Audacity of Hope

July 1, 2011 at 6:19pm

Today is, I think, the 31st of June (Friday?) or is it the1st of July?

 

We have been in Athens since the 21st - trying to get to Gaza.  Many impediments orchestrated by the Israeli government.  But what a wonderful group of humans.

 

Therefore:  We've won.  We're in Gaza.  To be in Gaza is to feel this love.  To know there is always a part of humanity that is awake even though the overburdened or the bewitched remain sleeping.

 

My throat is sore from breathing the tear gas that drifted into our hotel windows, as Greeks, mostly young, battle police, their brothers and sisters who are paid to keep them in line.  This is the tragedy.  I feel so much compassion for both sides my eyes tear and not only from the gas.

 

It was hard to breathe.  My lungs were fighting hard to protect me.  How I adore them, my lungs.  And so many of our group tried to protect us, my lungs and me, too.  A lovely young man named Steve gave me his own gas mask and someone else, a beautiful young woman with straw colored hair and blue gray eyes gave me the benefit of her knowledge of how to wear it.

 

I do not like calling such angels "blonde" as I feel the word is so loaded now and it sets them outside of Nature and somehow diminishes them.

 

I spent a blissful hour yesterday massaging Hedy's feet.  She has the most wonderful  gray eyes - full of humor and light.  She'd never had a foot massage before, she said.  And she is eighty-seven!  Hard to imagine.

 

Hedy, I said - when she told everyone who passed by us: "I'm being spoiled" - I have a full body massage at least once a week!

 

This was a high point for me, as it is well established by now in myself and among my friends, that I like to massage the feet of anyone who stands up for us.  Humanity, I mean.

 

Or the other animals.

 

Hedy, holocaust survivor, inhaling the gas in Greece, but even more poignant, anticipating being tear gassed by the Israelis who are doing everything they can to threaten our boat.

 

I have no computer - they said not to bring  one on the boat because it would likely by  destroyed or confiscated - only this small notebook in which I have been avoiding writing the poem that starts and stops in my head:

 

Sailing the Hot Streets of Athens, Greece

©2011 by Alice Walker

 

It has been so

hot!

Is it hot

where you are?

Penned up

in a destroyed

place?

In Gaza?

 

The whole world

distracted

by its weathers

& other

disasters

still is watching

us,

Gaza,

as we yearn

towards each other.

 

Trying to embrace

each other

to give each

other,

to ourselves

united,

a simple

hug.

 

The whole world

is watching

Gaza

& it is

wondering how

things

will

turn out.

 

They are making

it hard

for us to move

Gaza

& sometimes

we are

in despair

but I remind

us

that you

of all people

understand

obstruction.

 

They know this place

we are in

of not

being able to move.

They know it

intimately.

This place of stalemate

& stagnation, so unbearable

to any heart

that's free

is where they

hourly

live.

 

They will forgive

us

if we do not

arrive

on time.

 

Furthermore,

having left our

own homes

we are

already

there.

 

I believe

with all my heart

in the magic

and the power

of intention.

 

The women & men

with cameras

come

to record

our dreams

& our frustrations.

most of them are

young

& we are glad

of this.

 

We want them

to see their

counterparts

& their elders

attempting to make

this voyage

to endure

this crossing.

 

We pray they

are of good heart

& balanced

mind.

Even

the spies

among them

we hope

will learn

something

they may never

have guessed

before:

 

That a boat

filled

with love letters

from children

is a threat

to those

with

apparently

little memory

of youth

or experience

of love.

 

I have given

my word that I would

sail

and so I do - if not

on our boat

that is not so far

allowed to go

to sea,

then through

the air sending

thoughts and feelings

I sail:

We all sail.

We sail the hot, sticky

streets

of Athens, Greece

longing to see

the faces

& deliver

love letters

to the people

of Gaza.

 

Written on our beautiful boat whose canopy is a giant peaceful American flag, as we sail the waters off the coast of Greece and are intercepted by the Greek coast guard.