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Gershon Hepner

Two Jerusalems

Two Jerusalems there are,

one above and one below;

double-named as double star,

one a celestial entrepôt,

while for the other nations fight,

a humble threshing floor before

selected as a temple site

where earthmen still to heaven soar.

 

Bejeweled with two diadems,

fabulous their finery,

both of these Jerusalems

beckon to us, binary,

the one on earth a mere sideshow

for that above it, though the lever

to raise the one that lies below

is heaven’s ultimate endeavor.

 

As double, double, was the toil

of dwarves in Snow White—there were seven!—

Jerusalem’s most holy soil,

of which just half is inside heaven,

makes many troubled people pray

to be its sole proprietors,

their sins not white as snow, but gray,

irreligious rebel rioters.

 

 

Inspired by a poem by Yehuda Amichai  alluding to the Hebrew word for Jerusalem which implies that there are a pair of Jerusalems: 

Why is Jerusalem always two, the one above, the one below,

and I want to be in the one in the middle,

without knocking my head above and injuring my foot below,

and why is Jerusalem a double word like hands and legs?

I only want to be in one Jerusalem

because I am only one, not two.

 

Punning bilingually, I would like—with humorous topicality—to point out that when Jews pray several times a day for God to rebuild Jerusalem, the word בונהboneh, meaning “He builds,” in the phrase  ירושלים  בונה ברחםיו,  boneh He builds, Jerusalem with His mercy, implies that Jerusalem is destined to be a binary city. 

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at gershonhepner@gmail.com.