At The Boutique Hotel Jerusalem.
AT THE BOUTIQUE HOTEL JERUSALEM
If I forget thee, Jerusalem...
I could sit all afternoon at this boutique hotel's cool
mahogany bar--deep green drinks with yellow slices of citrus,
shiny new floors of white marble with black stripes
make for a calm, untroubled Art-Deco decor.
Leave the lobby for the faith and frenzy down the dry hill?
Cross the bare valley of bones and Gehenna,
by the worn pathways to the saints' graves and the pilgrims'
to the mount of the star and crescent moon
rising over those who rock and sway at the blind, blank wall
below the pre-recorded quaver of the muezzin's call ?
I could linger in this air-conditioned lobby
for the day, and watch, from this soft chair with a deep cushion,
or from the designer wicker one over there, as the tourists
and smart set come and go; where I am at ease;
where my wristwatch measures a small and simple time.
But some call comes for me to go, and so, down the hill,
to the Ottoman wall, and through the Jaffa gate
into the high heat, where in their greater time, the burning stones
But the Western Wall is always cool, for it stands in its own rigid
smooth to the touch, silkened by a thousand years of skin oil
rubbed in by the obsessed and the believers.
I tear a scrap from my bar receipt and scribble a skeptic's wish,
insert it, perhaps into the very crevice meant to receive it.