- My Heart is in the East, but I am in the West
After Judah Ha-Levi
Here, all is cool gurgling marble fountain set in tiled floor. In the garden flowering trees exhale a dusky glut of cloves and musk. I long to breathe the bracing scent of hyssop rising each morning from Jerusalem’s dry hills.
A boy comes in with apricots cooled in mountain snow; My thirst does not abate. I long to drink from Zion’s sparse wells, to rid my mouth of this assassin’s taste. [End Page 69]
Lamps gutter, then burn bright as wind stirs velvet hangings. The wine-server poses and pouts, unnoticed, musician’s hand falters and is silent.
Chill wind from the Atlantic’s void laps at this Spanish shore. We hardly hear his mongrel howl; each on our couch, swathed in longing, thin with love.
In His Holy Land, the righteous wind, hamseem blows from the stern and dry-eyed desert. Each drop of sand would water my wounded heart, its chambers putting forth the reddest scent.
Emerald winks, pearls weep on my cuff. Oh, for a simple sheepskin on my back, to face cold gusts from Sidon’s ancient hills: the teeth-aching snap of ha-laila b’aretz, a night in the valley of my forefathers’ bones. [End Page 70]
Roberta P. Feins was born in New York, and has lived in North Carolina and (currently) in Seattle. She received her MFA in poetry from New England College in 2007. Her poetry has been published both on-line and in print. She is an editor of the e-zine Switched-On Gutenberg ( http://www.switched-ongutenberg.org/ ). Though not a practicing Jew, religious school Bible study inspired a life-long interest in poetic language and in the history and stories of Jewish culture.