Jerusalem ~ A Poem

Drawing of Jerusalem by Elhanan

The City breathes in dreams

scrawled on brittle goatskin scrolls

emerging from caves and tombs and

awakening into limestone and flesh,

a thousand poems by a thousand poets

in as many blazing tongues, its walls

scaled by Jebusite and Hebrew,

by Crusader and Marmaluk, tortured

and dismantled by cruel Romans into

deaths and resurrections outliving

every fleeting tide of time and empire,

its waves returning to cast treasures up

against the golden gates to breathe

again and birth the dark-eyed

girl of the orient sparkling downcast

before the passing black-curled youth,

and blind beggars counting the

bristles of brooms in the scents of incense

and spiced coffee and leather and

roasting lamb, to the twirling tune

of merchants trading copper and brass

and Bedouin rugs in the musty oldness of

ancient stones as distant cousins are

forced close through the narrow

passageways, fixed-eyed zealots

of faith dashing to mosque and minaret

and church and synagogue to knock

on the backdoors of the one House

mantled and dismantled times over,

restless flocks of searching humanity

pass along the patient limestone

walls awaiting peace, wrinkles of

tired time sprawl around the bubbling

hookah and watch tiny curls of smoke

waft memories of harpsong and

chariots and clashing swords upward

through the occidental orient merging

skins of onyx and ivory pacing endlessly

the weaving eons spread between

the stone gates pocked in conflict

of a thousand generations, the timeless

Jewish warrior watchmen uncompromised

on the pinnacles guard the playing

children of hope and all the dangling

ends of the skies meeting in Jerusalem,


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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.