East Jerusalem

Jerusalem, stones everywhere.
Enough, that is, to throw.
Piles of trash and
a burned out, tipped over bus
mark the steep driveway
to where we’ll stay
tonight in “Old Jordan.”

A man tends his camel
below Beth Fage church.
Boys play around a fire
as one calls out, “Give me a shekel!
Give me a shekel!”
Two others say ten times
“H-O-W are Y-O-U?” and smile,
proud of their English.
I can’t say, in Arabic, how I am.
Or how they are.

The call to prayer
blasts through the sunset
as a cold wind wraps itself
around my head.
Dinner is ready
safe inside.
Dogs and sirens bark then rest,
children play soccer in front
of the Big House
and one by one
take the mints I offer.
The oldest child who first said no
takes my last one.

In the cold room above
we pray through the glass
straight to heaven
for each home
far below us
in the valley.
Our lights go out
but we keep on
in the darkness,
steaming up the windows
with fresh American breath
and song.
We’ll be leaving soon,
but we hope
G-d will stay.

© 3/19/02, Lois E. Olena (Written at the International House of Prayer on the Mount of Olives)

About Lois Olena :: Contact :: Links :: Bibliography :: Articles :: Holocaust Poetry :: Judaica Poetry :: Home Page

Website © Copyright 2004- Lois E. Olena & Keystrokes