kotel poem

Poems from Jtown

 1. From the Window 

If I look outside the window in my living room,
At just the right time in the early afternoon,
At the right angle, with the curtains pulled just-so,
I can transform my concrete Brooklyn view --
The barbed wire fences and implanted greens
The beaten brick walls and trash-laden streets
The sun dipped metal railings and rusted fire escapes -
Into the holy, wild streets of Jerusalem.
I can mimic her wonderful palms, 
Her winding train tracks,
Her purple sunset, her midday heat, her electric morning meditations,
and I can mediate the range and the distance,
of the view from my window, and the view from yours.
2.   Har Nof 

Har Nof has high hills but low ceilings,
Speckled floor boards, dusty and used under our feet,
Beckoning us to be seated in worn chairs
At long tables in stuffy rooms stuffed with books, long untouched.

Her slinky skirt sweeps along the floor,
Her Chumash nestled in the crevice of her arm --
like a newborn with a strong neck,
I perch near the window of the old dusty room,
And ponder the heights of the hills of Har Nof.

3. Running in the Forest 

The way she takes me with her iron grip,
And leads me over unturned earth,
With buzzing flies and achy heat,
I chase her in envy of her fleeting pace, her step too quick to face.
Through the Jerusalem forest we run for miles,
She forever leading, and I me, looking over my shoulder as the heat invades.

For she says we can’t go back,
Through mossy evergreens and the most northern mountains, she is my map,
She is that great book from G-d, those high hills, grassy fields --
colorful covered books of psalms for sale,
I see every color as the early sunlight drips between the branches,
I’m enchanted by the way she floats, and I can’t help but crash behind,
Following like newborn ducks,
Children to their guide.

4. On the Bus

I can recall the first time,
We took the bus for twenty five minutes in the wrong direction,
Or rather it took us,
And we had no idea we had let it.
For we sat sharing the same old screens,
Laughing in two languages,
One civilian, one armed in green,
One shared moment of utter failure,
That couldn’t have felt like more of a dream.
 5. Pages

I don’t know what the book says,
So I flip and flip,
And hope that the next page will be different.
I try slowing my pace, and turning my face,
Turning and turning,
Like the world, slowly turning,
Hoping that learning these holy pages,
Will take me beyond these elementary stages,
And maybe I’ll find some peace,
In this piece of our tradition that begs interpretation.

This holy of holies once begged my attention,
But now I turn my back.
And my gaze finds great pleasure in the hills and the highways,
And in the golden hour evenings that linger and turn sideways,
And I wonder how it is that I’m meant to tip my head down,
Into the pages from which it was all created,
Sedated in all of its vastness, taken aback by the way it traps me,
By the way it seems to tells me
To never look down.