Birds on a Wire

On my roof, these autumn mornings, I sit in the sunny spot; it seems only days since I was seeking shade. I sip carefully cooked Arabic coffee. I have learned to boil it properly, without breaking the foam on the top. I drink in its strong flavour, along with the warmth of the morning sun on my face. Sometimes a cat snuggles into my lap. At this time of year, leaves and seed pods drift in the cool, dry winds, detached from the tree that provided me with cooling shade throughout the hot summer months. Winter is approaching, the nights and mornings are chilly, the days are short.

I admit that I am addicted to the Internet. I detest this addiction, and promise myself, daily, that emails and the news will not be the first thing I look at when I get out of bed. But I am not true to my promise. So this morning, with my eyes still full of drowsiness, I read the details of yesterday’s terror attack by two teenage Palestinian girls, near my beloved Jerusalem market. The primary victim was an elderly Arab man, a Palestinian from Bethlehem. One of the attacking girls was shot dead, the other, injured, is being treated in an Israeli hospital (yes, Israel treats those who have committed terror against its citizens in their hospitals). These girls stabbed their victims with scissors, probably pulled out of their school bags, where they may have been nestled between pens and pencils, books teaching them that Jews are monsters, and hate. In a school bag filled with hate, anything can become a weapon.

My heart breaks. These young girls, willing to give up their lives so easily; an elderly man (it doesn’t matter whether he was Jewish or Arab, the facts just make it horrifyingly ironic) injured for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and being mistaken for a Jew. This makes me despair. “Despair” is a buzzword these days, often used to justify Palestinian terror attacks. But I am Jewish, Israeli, and I am feeling despair. Deeply. Overwhelmingly.

From my roof, I see flocks of pigeons, and sometimes also green parrots, swooping through the air, their silver underbellies shining in the morning light, their shadows swirling gracefully on the terracotta roof tiles of the neighbouring monastery, before they disappear into the distance or come to rest on the top of the roof’s steep slope or on an electrical wire. In spite of it all, I think, there is so much beauty in the world. If only we could focus on that, absorb it, emulate it, become it.

Three pigeons are perched on a wire above the monastery’s wall. One is grey, one brown, one white. They sit close to one another, touching. The white one is in the center. They sit quietly, peacefully. It seems so simple. Why is it so very difficult for us?

About the Author
Ruthi Soudack, originally from Vancouver, arrived in Jerusalem for a short visit three days after the beginning of the first intifada, and has been here ever since. She is a traveller, yoga teacher, writer, translator, editor, storyteller, musician, and occasionally, a stand-up comic.
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