Happy 62nd, Israel!
I wrote this when I was 19, on a birthright trip through Israel... felt like the land was restored but the people still wandering:
A bag is planted upon his shoulders, torn sandals grace his blistered feet. he walks the desert, sun scorching his wounds, his pulse in rhythm – a pitiful beat.
His memory bleeds of peaceful times, His mind is warped and tired, And all the wandering starts to drown The faith that once inspired.
It’s been too long since palace days, His senses mucked and tampered, The textures of that sacred home, The scents that filled that tabern…
And now that night seems far away, His daughters – raped, and lost and gone, His house was trampled, and lit aflame, He fled into the crack of dawn.
He walks the earth - the sand, the stars; All witness to the scenes, A tapestry of golden threads, Was ripped out at the seams
His sons – they fought with hearts on fire, Too zealous for their own good, They beat their drums against the code, And die – he knew they would.
His hands reach out to touch the sun, his eyes too blank to wander, through desert, and from town to town each man he meets he squanders
The sands of time, blow by and by, In sunshine and in sorrow, Kingdoms come and go and come, He still awaits tomorrow
His princes thrown into the deep, Their ashes burned of crimson ribbon, His clothing soaked in years of pain, Bloodstains now drench the sacred linen.
He comes, once more, to one more village, He begs to stay the night, the week, He swears in the name of his Holy father, To live again, for peace to seek…
He works his hands, and sweats his brow, He sews their worthless lot of land, His culture pays, his intellect shows - Oasis from their spot of sand
And while his mind still feels the blows The searing of the flesh – it stings, Visions of his burning home, Memories of faithful kings
And martyrdom of many ways, And zealots who established wrecks, And those who forged the tumbling crown, Now lay in dust – in retrospect
He doesn’t stop, he walks; he runs, He pays his fees, more than his fare, His hands are wrinkled, cracked and pained, The spinning wheel turns on from here
Yet visions of the future still too far from thimbled thumb to touch, with nothing but a stitch in time, self-righteousness if nothing much
And yet he works, he lives, he thrives… For in his mind a future bright, With history far behind him now, Yet, tyrants not quite out of sight.
And, still he knows the time will come, His wandering will reach it’s end, The past will then be turned to play, The promise just around the bend
He believes, yes he believes, His father told him long ago – This family’s name will bear the shame, Of sinners purposely gone below
And with that shame, they bare the name, Of fathers, sons, and heroines The wandering will come to close, The end of time will zero in…
A promise not yet lost beneath, The curtains layering the pain, Alive inside – a fire bright! Redemption of his fathers fame
And so he works, he knows it still, On the promise he’ll depend He sweats his soul, and reaps no gain, Not gain until the very end……
No gain that he can see or touch, No end of exile – horizon clear, Yet, he moves on, his body slow, Just one more step, just one more blow…
Just one more day, one more night, One more action, one more light, One more memory, of just more pain, A wandering old man – gone insane.
A chosen people – lost in vain.