Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Patterns of Breath

by Helen Bar-Lev

It is evening and chilly, I am walking home,
standing now at the intersection of Agron and King George,
waiting for the traffic lights to change,
engaged in nothing more intellectual
than observing the patterns my breath makes
on the night air

An ambulance streaks, its sirens hysterical,
an over-hormoned motorcycle blazes,
a moving van huffs loudly with the strain of its weight
and the reluctant-to-change traffic light
permits me to take in all this vehicular confusion

I am about to cross over to Paris Square
where the women in black stand every Friday,
demanding peace from Jerusalem’s stone ears,
when my eyes are drawn to the left, the east,
down Agron Street, past the taxi stand,
past the Italian convent, the American consulate,
the Isaiah House monastery, the bicycle repair shop,
the Moslem cemetery
towards the silhouette of the Old City

And there emerging from the rooftops
is a full pale orange moon
so huge my perspective is skewed
I mistake it at first for a street lamp
or a spotlight gone dim;
it is special, exquisite, gossamer,
as though hiding its shyness behind a veil

The traffic light has not yet changed –
I want to tap the man next to me
or phone a loved-one, to share my awe –
I will the sirens to be silent, the vehicles to disappear;
it is a sacrilege to view this moon
amidst the heavy noisy traffic as I now do

I need to be alone with this orange moon,
perhaps on a mountain top
with blackness and serenity surrounding me,
perhaps on the seashore
to see it reflected in the water,
or in the forest, tucked into trees, snug in Nature
I need to breathe this moon into my being
to hold on to this beauty forever

The traffic light has now realized it is time to change;
I cross the street and tuck the moon
inside my special file of marvelous memories
and wonder if any other person
in haste to get someplace
has paused for a moment to behold this moon,
mystical graceful, rising magnificent
over Jerusalem

* * * * *

© 2005 Helen Bar-Lev

Helen Bar-Lev was born in New York in 1942.  She holds a B.A. in Anthropology, has lived in Israel for 46 years and has had over 90 exhibitions of her landscape paintings, 34 of which were one-woman shows. Her poems and artwork have appeared in numerous online and print anthologies. Six poetry collections, all illustrated by Helen. She is the Amy Kitchener senior poet laureate. Helen was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2013 and is the recipient of the Homer European Medal for Poetry and Art. Helen is Assistant to the President of Voices Israel. She lives in Metulla, Israel.

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