Shavuot teaching: in your face!
Bread and bitter water (Radical Torah repost)

Read write prompt #77: opposites attract


The clouds were cotton-candy pink.
My first evening in the city of gold
I hadn't thought to prepare a toast.
I walked the unfamiliar streets.
People brought roses.
In the distance, dark cypress spikes.
I admired the handwritten names
and limestone buildings gave way.
After dark, when the night sky
yielded to desert, cut by a cement ribbon
only barely lighter than the hills
snaking, separating here from there,
I walked on a carpet of herbs.
I wanted to turn to you and say
a rainbow of paper lanterns gleamed
isn't it beautiful, isn't it strange
as though fireflies circled the deck
but you were too far away to reach.

This week's prompt at ReadWritePoem fascinated me. The challenge was to write a set number of lines about a happy memory, and a set number of lines about a sad memory, and then interleave them into a single poem.

When I sat down to write, both of the memories that came to mind were from last June: one of a night at home spent celebrating with our friends and family, and the other of the first night that I spent in Jerusalem. (That second memory isn't so much a sad memory as a bittersweet one; I remember being amazed and awed that I was actually there, but also feeling the deep ache of being far from Ethan and knowing that we wouldn't see each other again for two months.)

I think both memories have a wistful quality. I changed a couple of words to make the syntax work, but otherwise, this is a faithful attempt to live up to the exercise in question. I think it's stylistically different from what I usually write (maybe especially from the Torah poems I usually post here) -- but I really enjoyed the process of writing it, and I'm fascinated by how it turned out. Does it work for you?

Oh, and I borrowed the title from a Wim Wenders film. Thanks for the loan, Wim.

(If you want to read the other poems submitted for this prompt, go to ReadWritePoem on Thursday -- there will be a "Get Your Poem On!" post, where we'll all leave links to our submissions in the comments.)


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