The Poet at Seven


He could be any seven-year-old on the lawn,
holding a baseball in his hand, ready to throw.
He has the middle-class innocence of an American,

except for his blunt features and dark skin
that mark him as a Palestinian or a Jew,
his forehead furrowed like a question,

his concentration camp eyes, nervous, grim,
and too intense. He has the typical
blood of the exile, the refugee, the victim.

Look at him looking at the catcher for a sign—
so violent and competitive, so unexceptional,
except for an ancestral lamentation,

a shadowy, grief-stricken need for freedom
laboring to express itself through him.