Recently, the world played witness to the startling events in Egypt, whose political situation had gone largely unnoticed by the general public. We watched as the protests organized and then swelled thanks to the internet, as journalists struggled to cover the event as it turned violent, as President Mubarak struggled to hold on to his position but ultimately conceding power. Now, we continue to watch as the events of Egypt to see what will happen next as the political climate in the Mid-East shifts, spilling over into the surrounding countries. With Mubarak ousted, Egypt enters a new chapter in its history, one filled with excitement and uncertainty.Poet Matthew Shenoda was in Egypt only a few weeks before the events in the country unfolded. Matthew frequently visits Egypt, hoping the country and its people will one day find peace. Featured below are poems from his Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone where one sees how his contemplative lyrical voice captures both the difficulties the country faced and the resilience of its people, how a country’s politics can also have a deeply-rooted spiritual dimension and that despite seemingly overwhelming circumstances, there is always hope to be found. Countryside Why toss a bird in the sky & not allow her to fly? Cane juice flows & palm leaves eddy in the heart of a heart the places where songs are made from stone Why split the fusion & make a box for two? Let the thatch roof dry this is the place of hasad where rebel communities anchor their fists in land Why create clash & call it natural? Let the hills roll & the seeds resist the cover of soil this is the storm that feeds the place of compressed, rural strength Why breathe fire & call it light? Let the hands cup rain & the feet wade these are the kamanga strings that bend for humanity Why try to confound the spirit when the spirit’s greater than you? Let us be hibiscus flower & let the people go where they need to go along the road paved with cane & double binds In This Place From the air, you understand topography is a child’s feet dragging through sand. The coral heads of the Red Sea dotting a map from Africa to the Levant. In between, the sea and the rise of Sinai, the Nile, and the streets of Cairo, the air hangs heavy with trepidation, calling for the weaver to save the sky with cotton yarn and indigo dye. We promise ourselves that this world would sustain us that the spring will not dry before our children’s thirst. We run our fingers on sandstone speak stories in rivets and impressions. We cup our hands for water and pray the birds will learn to drink The architecture of the streets we rise from is shaped from fragility and resilience. The peddler’s kufiyah woven with understanding wind can kill or save in the desert. Beneath the scarves which cover these furrows lives colored by the farmer’s plow We wonder why the children’s eyes have grown so large— igniting this charcoal landscape. Season of Bone Poverty we have seen but never this soulless gaze of beast and human the trees beg their maker for drought unable to bear the thought of survival in a forgotten land And here before the cadence of war the screeching symphony of vile stalkers drowned in the memory of the aggrieved the river of his head swells and swallows his wife and children a reverie to the rubble lost in the crevice of the whip hand’s undertaking He prays for ascendancy, wanders the Red Sea shore names each fish like a child something to bear the loss He cries to the youth pulls at the flesh of his eyes We will rise from the mist of oppression like rejuvenated reeds on the banks of the River.
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