Get in, Omar motions and that’s how it happens—
the last tendril of hope caught in the door’s slam,
the comet of exhaust, the kilometers expanding
as Samir flies along Gaza’s last highway.
No watermelon vendors, no farmers, no 
women for me to signal and say Salam Alaikum? Shokrun? 
In the front seat, two men in the darkest
of sunglasses, laugh and argue in Arabic 
and it’s depressingly clear they’re discussing me. 
I consider the road’s dirt shoulder, 
velocity divided by speed, my body ribboned to red.
And how awkward if I could even open the door—
if I found my will frozen, my courage asleep.
An old sentence beats its rhythm in my ear:
They want to throw us into the sea! Into the sea!
The story I learned from my grandmother’s neighbor—
I was seven and she an Auschwitz survivor.
And then there is silence. It’s all been decided.
To the east of us, a kind of dreamscape fades in
like a foreign film’s slow establishing shot:
sand the color of clouds, turquoise surf, filtered light,
and we pull-up in a mall-sized parking lot.
Tell your friends, next year we will build foreign hotels, 
restaurants, discotheques, room for your dog pets!
I nod and smile, dog hotels, yes!
We take off our shoes, the men point, Suzanne!
Take a picture of me, of me! Which will you marry?
I shoot them on the shoreline, shoot their backs 
against the postcard sea, their arms clasped 
round each other, young men again, laughing. 

                                                                                Gaza City, Gaza



"I wrote 'Double-Exposure' this summer during the Israeli military assault on Gaza. I was horrified by the killings of children on the beach and the targetting of United Nations Schools. It was very personal because I had worked in Palestine. In 1995 I was invited by Amnesty International Palestine to teach two courses on Human Rights Education—one class in Ramalah and one in Gaza City. While in Ramallah, I returned each evening to East Jerusalem and spent time with a human rights activist I'd met in the States. However, after driving across the green line into Gaza, everything changed. I was left in the hands of two young men who spoke very little English. The poem takes its inspiration from my first afternoon in Gaza."

Susan Rich is author of four collections of poems including most recently, Cloud Pharmacy and The Alchemist’s Kitchen; she has received awards from the Fulbright Foundation, PEN USA, and the Times Literary Supplement. Rich’s work appears in the New England Review, Prairie Schooner, and World Literature Today. She lives in Seattle, WA and teaches Creative Writing and Film Studies at Highline College.