Poem / Wayfinding

Between the Lines

A poet-anthropologist in Israel looks to his students and their surroundings, calling for “seekers of peace” to create lifelines across social and geopolitical divides.
On the left, smoke billows out from the top of several large smokestacks on a long sandy shore that a few people are walking along. On the right, over dark blue water, an orange sunset illuminates a pier in the distance.

The Orot Rabin power plant, at Golden Beach, lies on the Mediterranean coast in Hadera, Israel.

Josh Yarden

“Between the Lines” is part of the collection Poems of Witness and Possibility: Inside Zones of Conflict. Read the introduction to the collection here.

Between the Lines - Listen

Lines down [1] Note: The author wrote this poem prior to the Israel-Palestine War that erupted in 2023.
the middle
in the sand
by the sea
flowing streams
of endless traffic
keep your eyes
on the way we
fight over rows
of trees on the hills
vines in the valleys
everything on the
horizon is lit by
power lines

Border fences
barriers and a wall
where there was
no separation at all

Is it Israel or Palestine
or both with a dash
or maybe the line
should be a slash
but which comes first
over this too we can clash

These lines
that split us
into teams
code our maps
red blue green
like those stripes
on so many flags
we run up the lines
or wave at protests
where people wear
ideology on their sleeve
to say you may hate me
but I will never leave

Then our flags get turned into
banners for battle or burned
make people shake and rattle
which knocks out our lines
of communication

Is it really time for
a demonstration
to prove that
the messiah
may tarry
yet God
is surely
on our side

Do we really have
to step up and decide
it’s time to draw a line

What will happen
to me if I don’t
to you if you won’t
if we each leave our side
and cross the divide

What if we resist the call
to put our lives on the line
create a lifeline together
help one another carry
the burden of memory
embrace every parent
who has lost a child
love every orphan
whose childhood
has been defiled

What if we meet
between the lines
we seekers of peace
forged by so many wars

Go ahead
write on
the next line
is yours

Josh Yarden has been slanting rhymes and exploring the tension between power lines for a very long time. He studies and teaches anthropology and critical thinking at the Givat Haviva International School, with Jews and Palestinian Arabs from Israel, and students from 25 other countries on five continents. Yarden received a B.A. in Middle East Studies from McGill University, an M.A. in Israel Studies from the University of Haifa, and a Ph.D. in Education, Culture, and Society from the University of Pennsylvania, where he wrote a dissertation on cultural transformation through reflective practice in experiential learning.


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