First Time at the Kotel—by Kathleen Wilkinson

Off the bus? Now, in the dark and the rain?
Our clothes are not correct, our hearts are not prepared.
The rainy walkways could be slippery but they are not.
Old men begging at the gate – “walk on by” –
They are always here.

Mothers and their small children have come,
Perhaps night is their only chance.
Prayer is alive – help, solace, hope shimmer.
I stand back a bit, unsure, but smiles
Call me forward, space is made – for me.

When I touch the stone, cold and wet,
The suns of two thousand years shine warm.
I know the comfort and the connection
Sought and found by my generations.
I belong.

Only a few minutes here, we must hurry, prepare to leave
Our Yerushalayim shel zahav. Snow is coming to tell
The unsatisfied soul, go forth from here to another place.
The old beggar men stand by the gate. It would be riches
To remain.