Bridges of The Heart

Once I saw an aqueduct in the desert,

channeling water over an arid land.

Where the water dripped over

the concrete edge, green life formed

into tiny miracles of life.

The power of small acts of kindness,

that like the water, can sink

into the dry ground and revive.

Caring words stronger than cement,

can construct bridges form myriad

airy strands. A web, delicate yet resilient,

cords that span over the years,

and will never be reduced to rubble.

Bridges of The Heart

Golden Moments

It is only for a moment that the sun catches the trees in the forest just right, and they turn into gold. Gold tree trunks as far as the eye can see, covered with gold leaves, all the way from the ground up, and then the moment is gone, and it is just an ordinary forest with the rising sun hitting it like it does every morning.

It is only for a moment, a fleeting moment, that the same sun rises above the Edom mountain range on the Jordanian border facing the dining room windows in my house on the edge of the desert, blush the otherwise bare landscape with blazing shades of red, as if caught on fire, and then it is back to the dull browns.

Above the jagged mountains that pierce the sapphire sky, and down into the azure warm water of the Red sea, licking the shore, the rising sun lights up a kaleidoscope of fish and corals, in the unending depth.

I can vision the sun lighting the craggy valley beneath my bedroom window, in our apartment building in Jerusalem. The valley of the ghosts (Emek Refaim) that for as-long-as-I can remember hosted the train going into the city, the same valley that once divided my town, with an unseen, yet impassable border.

And the kettle shrieks, and the water bubbles, and my white cat string a cord of silk around my feet, and I land.

It is only my kitchen, facing a line of trees in the back yard, bounded by a tall stack of wood waiting for winter, next to the stone wall.

And I smile to myself, what a magical journey.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following publications, where versions of these poems have appeared

  • Mothers Always Write – When We Will Train for War No More (was Tsuk Eitan).
  • Reflections  Magazine – a Love Poem to My City.
  • Reflections Magazines – If I Will Forget Thee

About the author

Ariela Zucker started to write poetry seven years ago, poetry quickly became her favorite writing genre.

Golden Moments

 Man is But

Man is but the pattern of his native landscape, Saul Tchernichovsky (Israel)

 I

Surrounded by hills,

my hometown, Jerusalem. There

ancient stories inhaled with every breath,

and the light breeze whispers names

of kings, and battles, scorned women

and fights for the crown.

At night, the full moon lights

domes built over wishing stones,

and for a second, a white dove

in a crevice of the Wailing Wall,

opens one sleepy eye, then shut it.

It is not time yet,

the gate of mercy is still shut.

A city carved out of ridged limestone,

and legends. Encircled by graves. 

A never-ending yearning

always hanging in the air.

Am I a pattern of this landscape? 

Of the pain that does not let go.

 II

Every year, in the winter,

I go to Jerusalem to visit my family.

First, my grandmother’s grave

in the old section, where graves

fall on each other, separated only

by narrow, crooked paths.

In the newer section, my parents

lying side by side, under a bent cedar tree.

I pick two small stones, and place one

on each grave. The memories engulf me

with their warm, soothing touch

My city, below, climbing the side

of hills, then sliding into the valleys.

The Judean mountain range, soft pink

where the tops of the hills touch the sky.

Graves all around me, I nod to newcomers,

and to those, I know from prior visits,

If I forget you, Jerusalem,

may my right hand forget its skill

The words that never leave,

forever, etched into my mind,

like a curse of an ominous sorcerer,

or a lullaby of a loving mom.

Man is But

Snow day chronicles

“Up to a foot of snow,” the smug-looking weatherman announces on the six o’clock news.

“Thirty million Americans in the path of the storm,” numbers are always a convincing tool in scare tactics.

“More than six states,” he continues to plant the seeds of doom.

“Stay in if you do not have to be anywhere,”

The small crooked smile at the corner of his mouth reveals how pleased he is with the drama he creates.

Behind him, the weather map alive with serpent looking swirls of green and blue and the dreaded pink.

*

In the middle of the night, two orange lights penetrate the shades of my bedroom, and a low growl and grind on the driveway. Ready to jump out of bed, I realize it is the snowplow performing the first of many rounds and slide deeper under my blankets.

*

In the morning, the quiet is deafening. It is the kind of quiet that accompanies snow days. No cars on the street, no kids on their way to school, even the dogs hush. Outside, a world clad in crisp white. My entrance door decorated with snow flowers. I savor the uninterrupted white before I send my lab out to mark it.

*

Shovel the deck so the snow crystals will remain outside, is my part in the snow removal operation. My husband wakes up the snowblower, and the brittle quiet explodes. The machine sucks in the snow and spits it out like a water fountain. Before long, our cars reappear from under their thick blanket of snow, and a narrow trail connects us to the main road.

*

On the morning news,  somewhat disappointed anchorwoman discloses that only 9 inches of snow came down. She brightens considerably when she shows us pictures of cars that sled off the road (everyone is OK).

*

By noon the temperature rises to 32 degrees. Big drops of water from the roof and the trees create an illusion of rain. The cleaned cars and narrow trail freeze to form a shiny layer of ice. This thin, hard layer will remain unbroken until covered with a fresh coat of snow. In the meantime, it is sprayed with sand to avoid sliding.

*

Brown, muddy-looking snow with untouched patches of slippery ice that snaps and pops when stepped upon. Icy cold drops of water, some find their way inside my coat as I haul inside logs of wood for the woodstove. Snow shovels and ice picks everywhere.

*

“Tomorrow night, a monster snowstorm on its way to the East coast, 50 million Americans in harm’s way,” here he is again with the smug look and the smirk.

Snow Day Chronicles

Rendezvous

My parents met in the streets of Budapest,

perhaps where I now stand, looking at the palaces on the Buda hill shining in the setting sun.

Or on the riverbank, in 1944, when the music was long gone,

crushed under the mass of people, on the way of no return.

Did he buy her ice-cream in the famous ice cream stand

Where the line is slowed by tourists,

 taking pictures of the flower-like sweet creations.

 Did they sit in the park, taken by a monument,

 there, a bronze eagle looming from above, still debated

with a barbed wire string of victims’

pictures that flutter in the light breeze.

“We were all innocent victims.”

Perhaps he bought her ice-cream.

They walked along the Danube,

Crossed the Chains Bridge,

 adorned with lions who cannot speak for having no tongue.

Perhaps.

Rendezvous

The sound of silence

‘The flash of a neon light

That split the night

And touched the sound of silence.” Simon and Garfunkel.

It is Yom Kippur today, but when I wake up in the morning, the world is going about its regular activities. The hum of the cars on the street as noisy as every other morning, the phone is ringing, people come into our motel lobby for breakfast. It is difficult to remember that this is a special day. For one minute, I close my eyes and try to reconstruct that old feeling I remember so well from my childhood, the sense of touching the sound of silence.

Yom Kippur, when I was a kid growing up in Jerusalem, was always about the quiet. No one drove, and the streets were empty. No music, or TV or phone calls to shatter the silence. It always seemed as if the whole country was holding its breath, and in this quiet, one could hear its own breathing, its deepest thoughts. 

I remember the sharp split on both sides of the day. One minute the world was full of noise, then precisely on the declared hour, the noise ceased, and the stillness reigned. The same was the quick change the minute the day was over.  

A solemn and weighty day as if in this complete silence, without any noise, one became more visible. As if words had to be chosen with care, and movements carefully match the importance of the day. 

 The heaviness of the day had a whimsical face to it that as kids, we waited all year for it. Since no one was allowed to drive on Yom Kippur, there were no cars on the road. We could walk in the middle of the street and knew we were safe. The adults spent the day in the synagogue, going over all their bad deeds and asking for forgiveness, while we were free to cruise the streets with our friends. That strange mixture between the sternness of observing the religious rules, versus the freedom that the day gave us children never seemed to create confusion. One thing did not overstep the other. 

Until the Yom Kippur of 1973 when all the lines were ruptured. 

The morning of October 6th, 1973 was when for the first time in my life, I opened the radio on Yom-Kippur. The silence was interrupted by the announcer on the radio reading in a metallic voice, lists of passwords. All army units that were called in. Two hours later, I was on a bus going north, and at dusk, I saw the first tanks of my armored unit grinding the road with their chains on their way to the Golan Heights.

After that Yom Kippur was never the same.

The Sound of Silence

I sought the ocean with its blue, touching blue

But in the winter the gray was pressing,

And during storms the hammering

Of the surfs, inside my head, drove me crazy.

I sought the lofty mountains penetrating the sky,

But they made me feel small and insignificant.

And I couldn’t walk up hills (never could), the thin air

And the height took my breath away.

Or perhaps the dense green forest alive with

Murmuring legends of lost princesses.

But no handsome prince rose to my rescue or a

Good-hearted monster. Not even a fire-spitting dragon.

The unending emptiness of the desert lured me once,

To follow mysterious barely marked trails,

Where echoes broke against sheer walls of black granite,

 Whispering, “go away…away…awa…”

In the end, it is with a thick book,

In front of the roaring fire hissing in the wood-stove,

And on the couch next to me, my cat’s purr joins

The melody of the rain tapping on the roof.

Sought Surrounding

Falling with grace

With aging, I hold on to what appears solid,

Life, once a fast-moving walkway, now less hurried,

& Still, it threatens my equilibrium.

When did my gait become so unsteady?

When did the question morph not to if, but to when?

When I’ll fall will it be with grace,

Will I remember, the art of falling safely,

Be smooth, don’t panic, stay loose…

 

The art of falling,

Is it a contradiction of words?

When the time comes,

Hitting the ground as gently as possible.

All that you need to learn is;

Be smooth, don’t panic, stay loose.

Don’t look back, grasping at gone moments

Open your fists, let them flutter away,

When you fall, give in to the fall.

Let grace take over. 

Falling with grace