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Spirit Captive

Bar-Lev's poem, Spirit Captive, appears in her recent book, SPIRIT CAPTIVE; Jerusalem in Poetry, Prose and Paintings which is available at Barnes & Noble website, BookBaby and Amazon. It is a paperback publication, https://store.bookbaby.com/book/spirit-captive  

This is a city that does not let me go;

it accosts me in its alleyways,

nails me to its crossroads,

fixes me to its doorposts


Humanity pours through its gates

tainted honey and soured milk,

poets and priests, politicians and heretics,

kippah and kefiyah

it sings in harps and sirens and muezzins,

in the chanting of its many religions,

the holy now polluted, at battle with itself


Every street and corner

is inscribed in my genetic memory,

its stones are engraved in the shape of my face,

chiseled into my bones,

glow golden as clouds turn red at sunset

and a huge moon illuminates its night


I have lived here forever, a captive from the past,

since King David through Romans, Crusaders, Mamelukes,

I am buried in the tombs of prophets and messiahs,

in the rhetoric of their memories, sacred and blasphemed,

now corrupted by greed, zealots and bigotry


Yet each time I return I tumble back into a history

that has forfeited its right to claim me,

and emerge into a present not worthy of those ancient memories


How I long for the peace of the nomad,

unattached, not attracted to any land,

whose home is the world

but I cannot escape the magnetism of these mountains

where my blood flows best,

familiar forever, so compelling so repelling


I must obliterate Jerusalem from my chromosomes,

sever the silver cord that connects us,

to negate the forces drawing me here eon after eon,

to correct some flaw in my destiny

that causes my soul to resonate to its elevation,

its light, its sunsets, its stones and moon

until I am able to resist this repetition of fate,

escape the multiplicity of beliefs that stimulate and stifle

so that I may continue without the burden of its presence

invading my dreams


Thus I entreat as I hover over synagogues and mosques,

churches, museums, schools,

markets, over this city that flows through my veins

and into the soil in which I am embedded,

and from which I recoil


I need to be free, for Jerusalem to release me,

so I may replant myself in other places,

to find the peace that has never existed here,

but my roots…


What shall I do with my roots?

 

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Saturday, 20 July 2024

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