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  • The summer sun stands high and pitiless
    a line of low, stepped of hills
    frames the narrow valley
    solitary flat topped acacia trees
    rise out of blackened stones.

    Below, the road winds aimlessly,
    following the twisting white scar of a dry riverbed
    Cars flash by hurrying to be somewhere else. Their race
    Secure and safe, encased in
    Private climates. Their landscape,
    a screen and arrow beckoning onward.

    No satellite listing, no code for
    The long rectangle marked by rusted strands of barbed wire.
    Here a plastic bag caught in the sagging strands flaps like a mindless insect
    The snap of plastic wrap the only sound to break the vast silence
    That hangs over the landscape of
    stones and dust and the sharp glitter of shattered bottles.
    Here the orderly, laid out grid is overwhelmed by sheer necessity.
    Here gaudy plastic flowers faded to a uniform pastel gray
    droop from empty bottles and rusted cans and
    Zig-zag ranks of faded wooden crosses lean already weary.
    Here the heaped stones are let lie jumbled.
    Here lined to frame the small and final measure

    The path from the road is worn and clear.
    Dressed in ironed dresses, suits and well shined shoes
    they make their familiar way
    shuffled steps raise the dust as they find their places
    Patiently they wait in the small islands of shade
    Cast by their improbably bright umbrellas
    Women to one side, men to another, they wait
    until one is moved to sing, his voice deep as a calling bell
    And then, as ancient as the hills, their song will flow
    The notes and red dust mingle and settle.
    And when they trudge home again
    To clustered shacks of tin and scrap and stone
    They will pass the bold and strident green of the vineyards and orchards.
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