Paper Prayers
(and Other Love Songs)

PAPER PRAYERS

Where there is a will, there is a way
through a hole or a door,
no matter the inaudible hopes,
no matter the inaudible hurts.
There’s even a ladder and a moon for us,
and an angel who sometimes weeps.
There are letters of summer to fold
in between the white sparks of brick.
They sleep in the grassy crevices like baby bluebirds
with tiny poems taped to their beaks.
There are springtime songs to rise
and fall’s prayer with wings grown strong,
faint as in a dream stitched from the belly
and here, God, is mine.

A SONG TO JERUSALEM

This special sky,
what else— just this sky.
I fade into myself, and fold away—
take it all as an olive tree spreading,
branches and roots into the earth of your body,
past prayers that can be felt seeping through your breath,
to where prayers speak to your white harp, your hills of dress—
I am in painted songs caressed by the filament of your beauty.
You are a mountain refuge for the heart, my eye.

How do I sing to you, Jerusalem?
You are not just anyone.
It’s just the heart, and I have no reason to—
I’m not out, or in, or part —
It’s just that the world bends gold across your city
a few miles strong, and yet away,
and neither stars, this child hope,
this peace burning in my breast,
your songs of gold like an ocean shell
around David’s tower, seems real.

My eyes cannot fully ever understand
your stones of white, your desert
hills and the olive earth, or the birds
by the Wailing Wall climbing
with wings of unending prayer on high.
I am in your dream just like an olive tree.
In the points in my eyes, you are
my branch of gold, my arm of light.
Your blanket of sky is the comfort to my heart, my head,
and the ground of your hidden fortress is
the mattress for my back. Inside your roots,
I always dream I can hear the grass grow.

SONG OF PEACE

Evening arriving is what it is,
Blues, greys, pinks on yellow shadow.
Chagall knew
There was no dark.
Only the color of light striking.
Shalom takes the present.
He unwraps and holds it
Like a drop of bevelling
In the light, to color me and him.
He looks at me knowing
My gift cannot do more.
O Shira, love, my peaceful love,
Sings Shalom as he rises
In step with the prisms
Alighting our window.
Like an Expressionist, my husband
Slowly impresses my world to name
The tints it hides within itself.
Name colors, like sky,
Make the light happen.
Still, he sifts the rooster-
Colored fragments of the day
Gently falling on my face.
Shalom’s eyes speak like stars on sand.
The prisms bend weightless
As a bird on a vine
Bare and shimmering
In the grape fields.

signature

These poems, some with slight adjustment, have been published

 in the Passover Literary Edition of The Canadian Jewish News:

“At the Kottel”; “Song to Jerusalem”; “Shirat Ha-Shalom”.

Yom Yerusahalayim, or Jerusalem Day, is observed in Israel following

Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Photography by Marina Mashaal

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