VII. Searching for a Space|
to the inner
sit at tables
or the counter
long like an
rest for elbows
as food passes
loners or lovers
while a hurried
and hungry hands
open the door
SONG FOR ALISON
dearest in your black sweatshirt
in the latest style
and managers of bars,
what songs do they sing you
more precious than the songs of Jerusalem,
birds swooping at sunset
fields of young people
what song do they sing you on Broadway
that you can so easily forget the Jerusalem songs?
—Lois Michal Unger
IN DAVID’S RESTAURANT
“For the Lord has chosen Zion, He has desired her for His
habitation. ‘This is My resting-place forever, here will I dwell, for I
have desired her. I will surely bless her provisions, I will provide
abundant bread to her needy.“ (Psalm 132:13-15)
In David’s restaurant of firm belief,
Thick sirloin steaks are broiled, while tender veal
Is spiced and fried; before the festive meal,
Mystics’ mead is served as an aperitif.
Solomon’s sons and daughters baste choice beef
By adding psalmists’ sauce, so it will heal
The lepers from disease, the pained who kneel
Before despair, the mourners from their grief.
But we don’t ask for prophets’ cake or wine
Of revelation, pies or apple tart,
The rich desserts anointed kings are fed.
The simple bread of simple faith is fine
And more than satisfies the famished heart;
When hunger sucks our marrow, bring us bread.
WAITING FOR THE TSADDIK
The tsaddik keeps his own count of time:
to see him you may have to wait for hours,
in the murmuring white vestibule,
sit soundless in the shadow of the cold chrome clock
measuring moments like drops of frail rain,
til he appears
like a muted rainbow scattering sparks
and you are called.
If you come on the Sabbath
he’ll gather up scraps from his table;
you hold out your hand
and wait in line
learning the gestures of a holy beggar,
He may bless you
if you wait long enough,
light leaping from his eyes.
You gather the fragments and journey homewards
wondering why you came
and what you really gained.
It will be revealed
many hours later
in the solitude of your thin room
when you reach out towards the light
inchoate, joyful cries catch at your throat.
A SONG OF LOVE
From the Cave where Hebron's Patriarchs sleep
from that womb did I emerge into the world
and there I will return when my voyage ends.
My beloved land, flesh of my flesh fragmented by cruel hands
together we lie bleeding
out of your dust my innards were formed
your hills and rivers, the desert and the oasis
nourished the veins of my heart
Golan winds caressing basalt mountain slopes
formed my limbs, worn down by tempests raging
my brow is water-polished stone, carved by the streams
of Lebanon's melting snows cast into Jordan's tributaries.
Your image is my own, forever I see myself in you
dark eyes the azure sky over Beit Lechem
heart a fire-stone of golden Gilboa wheat fields at close of day.
Eretz—mother father brother sister,
each daybreak brings the promise of our Creator
twilight prayers embrace foundation rock, the secret of our fathers.
At the hour of midnight Tikkun prayer, hewn Temple stones
and un-hewn stones of Mount Moriah
the roots of the Temple Mount [from here God raised creation]
weep tears of savage mourning.
How long this Kina for Zion?
Kina—verses of mourning for the destruction of the Temple
As Avraham rolled up each side of his tent
But how could you
You’re so old
Aren’t you in pain
What if it rains
The poles sink into the mud
A sand storm
A wind rips through the fabric
The very fabric of Avraham’s personal self
Sacrificed without a second thought
Run, he said
Prepare something for our honored guests
So he did
So have we
In honor of our guests
In honor of one whose guests
We have been
And now feel at home
Within the flaps of his Torah
His tent of enveloping warmth
His message of love and acceptance
—Mindy Aber Barad Golembo
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
The low one who tore into little pieces the banner of Israel
just minutes before Sabbath came in late Friday afternoon
littered our gray stone street with colors blue and white
Left some scraps of holy fabric on my doorstep
warning that the flag hanging high over my home in Jerusalem
might be the next upon which he would vent his jealous venom.
I struggle with the fear-filled energy falling into me
as I gaze at the shredded bits of material lying on the street
that desecration of the symbol of our national identity.
Stepping into the haven of my apartment I focus--
salon table is set with a white floral cloth
white silk covering two loaves of braided challah
lovely white lilies stand tall in shapely blue vase
seven cups of oil in glass candelabra await lighting.
The clock ticks quickly, I pray to meet the challenge.
Then, even stronger, even prouder than before,
I enter Shabbat, grateful for the tranquility
granted me from the One above.
SEEKING IN JERUSALEM THE GATEWAYS
“Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.“ (Psalm 122:2)
Jaffa Gate: Saturday. Dusk. From the Throne of God
Silently descend threads of a blue veil
To enwrap, entwine, and tint the pale
White stone houses of Jerusalem. Three stars wait
In the darkening sky for us to celebrate
Havdalah, and shut the Shabbat gate.
Zion Gate: Monday's dawn unlatches the gate
Of learning. Can you overhear God
Whisper, or can you glimpse the veil
That masked Moses as we read from the pale
White parchment of the Torah? The Jerusalem winds impatiently wait
Outside the stone study-hall, and in the leaves of olive trees,
Flowers' Gate: Tuesday morning clouds embrace, merge,
And stroke the Jerusalem hills. The gate
Of beauty never closes; the clouds, in their search for God,
Transform into stones, trees, temples, and finally a veil.
Leaves of olive trees (turning from dark to pale
Green), turning like the pages of a prayer-book, whisper and wait.
Damascus Gate: Do you too seek revelation? Why wait
For the blinding sun-rays of Wednesday noon to celebrate
Jerusalem's splendor, and entrance you; the gate
Of prophecy needs only a gentle touch; God
Has written you a message in the crevices of stone; under the veil
Find inscribed your name: deciphered, decoded and pale.
Lions' Gate: After touching the Kotel's stones, a pale
Hand opens a prayer-book. The words do not wait
For a minyan to gather as they reverberate, celebrate,
And ascend on Thursday afternoon, unlocking the gate
Of prayer. Beyond words, beyond Jerusalem's skies, God
Listens as words of prayer strive to move aside the veil.
Dung Gate: Do the large, silent stones of the Kotel veil
The Shechinah, blushing beyond the pale?
The stones, losing color in the Friday twilight, wait
For us to dance, to herald and celebrate
The Shabbat’s arrival, opening the gate
Of compassion, the gate closest to God.
The Gate of Compassion:
Who cannot celebrate Jerusalem? Who can wait
Outside the Sanctuary's gate? Pale
Pilgrims, we lift, hands trembling, the veil of God.