The Tel Rumeida Circus for Detained Palestinians

for Jonas Moffet and Katie Miranda, who perform circus routines
at checkpoints in the occupied territories

Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee,
that the sea may be calm unto us?
for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous…
— Jonah 1:11

Because the blur of flame encircling the bodies
can be mastered-flexed by stone-tested wrists-

and though this scorched earth gives birth to a stone
for every stone that’s thrown-Jonas can cast

three stones pitched in anxious air-to hover there-
and though Jamil has lost his sense of smell-because

he lifts his nose to the arc of flight-of firelight-
another detention blurs into attention-

because Katie summons ignition and-unburned-turns
at its axis-the port of access and daily denial

where the people must wait to have their names
confirmed-and hunker in the mouth of a whale-

because they walk the line of fire, and swallow
the conflagration-straining-beneath the ribcage-

Philip Metres

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