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Slamming a Door

On one side of us they’re planning to build a village, level the part

of the mountain where the black iris flourishes. They’re going to

put up twenty houses first, then make room for another

      fifty next spring

when the irises raise their heads, if everything had been the same.

It isn’t right to uproot pines planted for a purpose

      then spread concrete

dig cables and pipes into that earth, choke out wild tulips,

      cyclamen and

blood-red poppies that appear among the irises.

It touches a nerve, slams a door on other times.

I know I’m dealing with nostalgia, bringing sentiment

into what is really an issue of selling homes with a great view:

the valley below and irises in your garden

if they survive the ambush. I’ve seen engineers

marking out the mountain ledge, laying out the village:

thick in the middle and sparse along the edge.

No longer reserved for the Gilboa irises

that don’t grow anywhere else.

Then I heard that down the other way, on fields behind

the moshav farms, they’re going to build a race-track

      where orchards

chickens and cows are now. The farmers, who came from Morocco

in the fifties, worked that land as best they could, have grown old;

their sons are ready to sell at almost any price, guarantee money

coming in – maybe jobs.

I know that traffic and noise will take over the space

push away the sky, bring new rules to the area.

Farmers now talk about laying bets, winning or losing,

not seasons or crops.

Money will pass hands as never before.

about the author

Canadian born, Rochelle Mass grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and moved to Israel in 1973 with her husband and two young daughters. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the author of three collections of poetry, including The Startled Land, released by Wind River Press. Her work has appeared in US, Canadian, and Israeli publications.