Through images of conflict and craftsmanship, Ruth Padel’s powerful new poems address the Middle East, tracing a quest for harmony in the midst of destruction. An oud, the central instrument of Middle Eastern music , is made and broken. An ancient synagogue survives attacks, a Palestinian boy in a West Bank refugee camp learns capoeira, and a guide shows us Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity during a siege. At the heart of the book are Christ’s last words from the Cross.
Uniting this moving collection is the common ground shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam: a vision of human life as pilgrimage and struggle but also as music and making. With care and empathy, Ruth Padel suggests how rifts in the Holy Land speak to conflict in our own hearts. 'We identify. Some chasm / through the centre must be in and of us all.'