Shadow Play At The Western Wall—by Barbara D. Holender

Shadow Play At The Western Wall
Barbara D. Holender

Caperbushes sprout through dry crevices, spattering shade
on stone eighty feet above the congregation.

One chassid among the flock of crows–that one–
dances with himself in prayer,
sways left, now right seven times,
forward thirteen, now seventeen short bows,
again and again, pliant as a lulav,
is shadow advancing, earlocks matching
flying curl for curl, even the fringes
of his tallit, almost even the stripes
sharp in shadow, so clear the light,
so light the air, ah that Jerusalem air.

At almost sunset, the students explode
four, six abreast in a running dance
down the Yeshivah staircase,
across the square singing, singing,
echoes on echoes, so many students,
now single file, hand on shoulder
each of the one ahead, round and round;
the songs rebound from the golden wall
as the Sabbath descends.

The caperbush sways in the moonlight
against stones moist with supplication;
zmirot, songs of Shabbat, float
over the square, shalom, Shabbat shalom.

From the shadows beyond the wall,
the muezzin’s hoarse cry.