Old City Poems

A Tour Guide’s Confession

I have a confession to make. Every two years we Israeli tour guides are required to renew our guiding licenses. In order to do so we have to prove that we have done one day per year (so that means 2) of the Ministry of Tourism’s approved day tours which count as ‘hishtalmuyot‘, which imprecisely translates as ‘continuing education.’ My confession is that I always wait until the second half of the second year to think about this, and then I sign up for two of them that happen to fit my schedule in the near future and are not too much of a pain to get to. Today I was learning about the new archeological digs at the Western Wall tunnels. There were interesting tidbits, but at least half the day was going over information I already knew well, so my mind wandered. And you, dear reader, are the beneficiary. Below are some poems I composed on my phone, with accompanying pictures. Hope you enjoy!

“The Kotel”

notes shoved into cracks in the Western Wall

Murmers of prayer
turned into mortar
between the giant stones.
The coo of pigeons above
as I step away
I join a group for kaddish.

“The Tour Guide’s Poetry”

Standing in a Mamluk building
that used to be a mikvah
at the street level of the Second Temple
I look down three thousand years
to the ruins of a wall
from the time of David
cut across by a Roman water channel
with the confident Hebrew of the tour guide washing over me
as I write something
resembling poetry

“This Time Just the Picture”

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