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Philip Metres reads his poem, “My Heart Like a Nation”.

Philip Metres:

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Philip: Hi, my name is Philip Metres and I am going to read my poem "My Heart Like a Nation" for Yehuda Amichai.  This poem explores my both love of Yehuda Amichai as a poet, a very humane poet, and also my wrestling with him and the ways in which his work never seemed to see Palestinians.

This contradiction at the heart of his work, his great humanity on the one hand, and yet this inability on the other hand to see what was happening, and the implications of what was happening both in the country where he was living, in Israel, and also in his own work. 

My Heart Like a Nation 
                                for Yehuda Amichai

You threw off your exile
by clothing yourself in praise,
Yehuda, saying, my nation
is alive, Amichai, in me,

inhabiting your own body, 
your mother-beloved skin.
I’m hairy like you, and afraid,
like you, I’m half animal

and half angel, uncertain 
where my tenderness ends
and cruelty begins. We
did what we had to do,

you wrote, which in translation
reads: [classified]
Yehuda, I want your clarity—
to love you, not close the gates

of my heart like a nation
trying to make itself a home
but winding up with a state. 
Psalmist, you spoke so tenderly

of peace, but the war persists. 
All I have for you is this poem:
a man photographs the sudden
undulating hills. Behind him, 

a woman he loves now dreams
that their bed’s legs grow roots
beneath, overnight, and spread
a canopy of branches that shoot

pink blooms open and open,
now green with shushing leaves 
that shelter and shadow the rucked
bedsheets, the branches burdened

with red apples, apples like eyes
ready to be praised
                                      and plucked.