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Dawah by Charles Tisdale


The family of a 33-year-old Palestinian pharmacist from Beit Hanina donated his organs for transplant yesterday.

The Jerusalem Post June 5, 2001, Tuesday

The Israeli Police investigating His murder say the shooting resulted From a dispute with another Palestinian. I am his daughter. I know better. He was Delivering some pills for an infection To the Shuafat Camp. Someone was to pick Them up at the shop. No one will admit To anything. There was a scuffle, I guess, But my father was a peaceful man.

I can’t decide if I should go to school Next week, after the mourning. The funeral Is tomorrow at Al Aqsa. I can see It down there, the golden dome, looking Like Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac All over again, the same spot where The Prophet went away into the heavens. He was thirty-three years old and this The eight month of the Aksa Intifada.

She gave me a cup of juice, the nurse did, But I couldn’t drink it in front of mother. I brought it out here, on the balcony, Overlooking the city. We had another Bombing yesterday. The sun is setting And I can see it shimmering off the dome Into my cup into my eyes into the inmost Part of me. Soon the Adhaan will call out To kneel for the evening prayer to Mecca.

We rushed to Hadassah because there was Nowhere else to go and my aunt had been Having dialysis here. We were not sure At first, whether the Koran allows such Cleansing, for even a kidney is sacred. But father said we must show Dawah In this, and now for him we must answer. A woman Tamar came out to meet us And said she had something important

To ask us. As I am drinking this cup Of juice I swear a woman’s life is mostly Spent flowing somewhere, giving and receiving, In milk, and blood, and honey. A young girl Knows this before a young boy can even Think for himself. For me it was last summer And now my father’s blood––the doctor said He was brain dead––congealed on the sterile Bandage, ruddy like the Jordan flooding.

The Jewish woman Tamar was sitting With us at the table near the snack bar. She explained how it was the hospital’s Policy to speak with the family about Possibly donating organs. At first My brothers did not know what to tell her. All the time I kept saying to myself We must give my father up. And so they Did, tell them to take away the life support––

The heart pumping machine, the artificial Lungs, the fluids––so they did tell her To give my father away. Mother asked If the hospital would allow his organs For anyone, and the woman Tamar answered Her that the authorities never agree To limit recipients. All she could say Was that my father was a suitable donor. That made me think of how a Jew could have

Dawah, too, how they might take from death To give more life. My father was dropping off Some pills to stop an infection. Revenge And Dawah could go together, his love For me spilling out into the body Of the murderer. We are Joulianis–– The name he left as mine––his liver now Probably already becoming a Jew At the Rabin Center, in a sterile box

His heart rushing by helicopter To the Sheba Hospital at Tel Hashomer, His pancreas in a jar waiting to be Put in a Hebrew stomach at Ichilov, One kidney here at Hadassah, the other They are sewing up now in a little boy No older than myself. The Koran says Our men must fight a Holy War. Dawah Is this revenge I have to spread around

My father’s spirit, the risk a woman takes When she marries, when she unveils herself, When she has a baby. The little body Grows inside herself, half an organ she can Never give up, half she knows not Mohammed’s Child, or Jahweh’s, Muslim or Jew, whether He will heal or kill. The woman Tamar Insists it is not the hospital’s policy To give my father’s organs only

To Arabs, and it is easy to see that Most of their patients are Hebrew here. But what if when I am twenty I should Dare to kiss someone with my father’s heart? Or what if my uncle one day delivers Another prescription of pills to fight Off the infection to the same coffee house At Shuafat and he is shot by a man Holding my father’s breath inside?

Or what if the little boy with his kidney Should prophesy the end? I am trying To think Dawah is not a golden dome But the Jordan flowing like a girl I am Hoping all are doing well with healthy Organs as many as the stars of the sky And the sands along the seashore. I am Hoping the parts of five Jews will not find It so hard to make peace with themselves.


Charles Tisdale has published poems in more than eighty reputable magazines such as The Antioch Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Notre Dame Review, The Tampa Review, and The Denver Quarterly. He has won an Honorable Mention in the Nimrod Pablo Neruda International Contest, and has been long listed in several others. He has written several poems set in Middle Eastern Countries based on newspaper articles printed in the Jerusalem Post. He won the Antigonish Review Blue Pelican Contest in 2012 for one of these, "Awrah", whose speaker is an Egyptian young woman. The poem here being published by Breakwater Review, set in Israel, is a companion piece. Charles Tisdale has conducted seminars in Disease as Metaphor and Metamorphosis at UNC Greensboro. He also teaches Latin and Photography in a rural Charter Middle School.

"Dawah" was chosen as a finalist for the 2015 Peseroff Prize. Judge Jill McDonough admired "the sharp, clear-eyed narrative ... a fresh, complicating perspective showing 'his liver now/Probably already becoming a Jew.’”

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