Evelyn DeVere

Beyond the Wall

We knew there was more than this.

When I think about why—beyond the surface, obvious reasons—a loved one’s inability to understand and empathize with Palestinians scares and hurts me so deeply: it’s the inability to see another’s humanity as precious, which means that a part of your humanity has been severed, buried, killed, suppressed. If you cannot feel for another—no matter how far away, how different you may feel you are—I do not believe you can fully feel for me, for yourself. A piece of you is missing. A crucial one. Your love doesn’t feel genuine. There’s an asterisk, an exception. “If you become someone I find too ‘other,’ my love ends there.” It is a cage. For those you claim to love, and for yourself. “Do not stray too far from me, or you journey into a loveless land. Stay inside the borders.”

But—they cannot see how lush and vibrant it is beyond the wall. They cannot imagine it. They do not dream that hands will reach out to hold them as the painful force of love and grief washes over them. They were told it was a wasteland: grey, dusty, barren, lonely. They were told only abandonment waited. They stayed behind the wall, and let the concrete encase their hearts, too.

Mothers whispered harsh cautions, warnings of those who left and did not return, could not return. If you go beyond the wall, these comforts will be forever withheld. Fathers used violent hands, believing force could instill a fear of straying, trying to hold us here, where they thought they could keep us safe. They could not see that they only showed us a world of submission, or lack, a shrinking landscape.

We knew there was more than this. We made trips to the other side…slipping through hidden doorways under the cover of night at first. Venturing back more and farther as we found the others there—others whose spark recognized our own, who held us, saw us truly for the first time. We returned, we tried to tell of the land we saw, the world that was possible—we saw it with our own eyes! Our beloveds met us with suspicious looks, furrowed brows—no, this cannot be. You have strayed beyond the limits of my love. What could you have possibly found that is more than what I can offer? I have never seen this—no, it cannot be. It must be a trick: do you not remember my warnings? Do you not remember my hands bruising your flesh? There is nothing more than this. You are being deceived. We scream and shake and cry—no, I have seen it—let me show you!

And if they cannot see us, if they refuse to even see the door we have found, we still go. We must. We carry our grief, mourning their calcified hearts. We carry our love, praying for their eyes to open. They do not understand that we leave not only to save ourselves, but to save them too. How can they—they believe our love must be finite, as they believe theirs to be. They do not know. It breaks our hearts to leave. Our grief cracks open our love—we have enough to give.