Jerusalem

Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 16:00

Here is an absence peopled with references from books.

This chapel’s bank account has been frozen, this boy

Beside me has a garment with bitterness for a mother;

And a troubled face of mother-of-pearl. His looks

Are those of a lost shepherd. He claims no other

Place but here in this one Paradise without joy,

This strangely beautiful; this one Jerusalem:

Home is a flock lost at night, or a hypothetical Rome,

Or something in the silence of a steel engraving

From our old books. I’m thinking of that long view

Of the city from the road to Bethany, the star-

Shaped walls under cloud, sunlight tinting

The cumulus with silver and white. From afar

There’s the lost cantor’s son, a yellow glaze of Israel

Upon the stained earth. Shush! The coffee cup, the kiss

Of light falls on a Rabbi you have loved for years

And somebody begins to play the Fantasia of Bach’s

Partita in A minor – suddenly a torrent of light

Falls upon us all, an improvised device of music

To lift immemorial squalor, to ease heartache

And dispossession; to let us not perish

In the bitter pandemonium of those who fall out

With God. We rest against a most wretched, ancient wall

And kiss again where notes and pelargonia blossoms fall.