After My Talk in Jerusalem ~ Albert Katz

my presentation completed
I walk the Via Dolorosa
on the route He walked
buried now some feet below me
by the debris of time

all around me I feel
larval creatures that should have been extinct
cloned and oozing
in the whirlpool of current events

I see a newspaper
and though I can’t read the Arabic
I interpret quite well the pictures
of mangled bodies

and so it cycles

I have dinner with another presenter at the conference
“I think what happens when you are young never leaves you”
she tells me
distraught by the news of her best friends suicide

when I think about her friend
I wonder whether she conjured up horrors from her past
a film she was forced to watch again and again
until it was too painful to bear any longer

or did she pick and choose which horrors to re-visit
or perhaps re-shape
making the ugly even uglier
the black even blacker

and why did she not choose to make the ugly a bit less ugly
the black a bit less dark ?

In Jerusalem you know for sure that Jung was correct
that we play out cultural histories
in the stories we construct of our lives and of those around us

in the morning after breakfast
I walk towards the Wall

there is a commotion in the crowd

looking past the young soldiers with uzi’s
slung across their shoulder
I see two women trying to reach the Western wall
in the line reserved for the orthodox male

bearded men shouting obscenities
waving thin white arms

the soldiers are shouting also
though it is not clear at whom

I take a picture surreptitiously
and by so doing
break the second commandment

when I reach the wall
remembering none of the Hebrew
I was force fed for my bar mitzvah
nor knowing any prayers
I recite Leonard Cohen in English
there’s a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in/
that’s how the light gets in

I am not a believer
nonetheless I write a note
leave it in the crack between the brickwork

I ask that He look after my three children

as an afterthought I add
“and all the other children”