The pool of Bethesda is dry;
Apartment buildings tower above the gap in the Old City;
Mourning doves eat refuse on the Tower of David.
Pilgrims, stop your wandering.
Scholars, stop your scrutiny.
Children, stop your spinning wheels.
Underneath the walls of Herod a prayer lilts
Drink beside the fountain of cool water.
The water is not Jewish, nor Christian, nor Muslim.
It speaks in an ancient tongue.
It heals the wounds of lepers:
We that stand mesmerized at Bethesda.
There is a war in Hebron:
After the rains the olives are harvested.
There is a drought in the white hills:
The olive trees send their roots deeper.
Wind storms blow from the Negev
Branches scatter on the rocky soil.
Even as humans in their anger chop the olive tree
At ground level, the stump sprouts new twigs,
Soldiers at checkpoint in Hebron, 2012
Branches to shelter my great-grandchildren.
Yes, in 50 years the shade of this tree stump delights in a child’s laugh.
War is made of brittle ashes, but a tree is God’s flesh in action.
What way will Hebron go?