Jerusalem, O Best Beloved, how quiet you are within the city walls.
I walk on softened stone, through shadow and light, down alleyways I know like the veins on my hand, past the people who know me by now well enough to know that, “lo, todah,” I don’t want to buy a wooden camel, or a t-shirt, or a backgammon board, “lo, todah, I am looking hard for something that I can’t yet name, beyond the limits of what I can still only imagine, and only I will know when it is there, ready to be found, but todah, shukran, thank you for asking.”
Jerusalem, O Best Beloved, how hard it is to look you in the eye during days like these, during days when I can hear the echo of a boom from still too close, during days like these when I wait for the censors to clear the news we’ve all known since this morning, during days like these after one of them tells me the tale of the three boys lost, #EyalGiladNaftali: “Haven’t you heard,” he says as he mashes a pomegranate, “they really died in an accident in Eilat, and the Shin Bet made the whole thing up to start a war.”
This man, this smiling man who knocked 3 shekels off the price when he found out I have two kids and no husband (“may God protect you!”), who let me use the WIFI one time without even ordering anything (“What is mine is yours, habibti”), who translated twisted word by twisted word Mashaal’s speech on Al Quds TV so “that I may know the truth,” this man with vacant eyes shining like twin moons.
I look away.
It’s quiet now, on this Sunday when I walk down these roads searching for meaning between gauzy rainbows swinging from the ceiling, when I walk down these roads breathing in the scent of cardamon and knaffe, when I walk down these roads in the sullen silences between pilgrims singing, between church bells ringing, between the Muezzin calling, between the languages and the lines that separate, that intertwine that lead me through the alleys and streets, over small stones, and beneath low ceilings to this point here where I am standing shaken alive with a scream in my throat.