Dear Palestine,

In memory of a man named Bilal Salih who was killed by an Israeli settler October 27 near Nablus, West Bank

Your skies descend on darkness on blood on skin–
moonlight finds its way through rubble, smoothed
with cries we hear like jagged edges against our
coffee cups.

It’s morning in Chicago.

When you died the other night the other morning the other month
I went to work to pay for it.
This is our arrangement: I work, you die.
Both happen a little more every day.
I figure you know I don’t want to, and worse, I can’t help it.
My apologies go down my throat like the bitter grounds
you are forced to leave if you still have the legs and the breath for it.

I look up what kind of trees you have.
It seems important to picture you as you are.
I read about a forty-year-old man in Nablus shot
while unironically picking olives from an olive tree.

Olive trees, then. One partially picked with our arrangement
snaking up a slim branch towards an empty sky.

Nicole Lombardi is a high school English teacher and writer who lives in Oak Park, Il. She has work published in Mindful Word, English Journal, and Beyond Words Literary Magazine. Read other articles by Nicole.