A Preface

This book is called ToBeBorn because the preceding phrase from the Yeats poem was already taken, or maybe for reasons still unresolved. Surely there’s much left in that first phrase to gaze at, but for me it’s the follow-up, that phrasal infinitive, which has always been the shocker, the surprise twist, the monstrous and sudden real deal. After all, mid-afternoon on any Tuesday you can find a large enough collection of people slouching toward Bethlehem to pick up an iron at the Spitany, say, or to sit a while with some cousins under the myrtle trees outside the Chicken Hut on Karkafeh Street before swinging by Bank of Palestine to do a funds transfer. It’s all going on right this second, probably. And it’ll keep going on, for these—I should think—are the real reasons to slouch there, from Bad Fluh, or Hindaza, or wherever else. It’s all much less vertiginous and concerning than this “to be born” business. Who, other than a half-conscious poet in his automatic writing chair, would ever sign up for something so indiscreet?