These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Two Yerushalmi Poems

Posted on June 23, 2016 by Sarah Marx

Tags: , , , , ,

This blogpost was originally published on the author’s personal blog, Ramblin’ Maidel.

Inspired by Jerusalem, as always, and its characters, and its millennia of liturgical music.

The Electrician’s Psalm

Unhemmed Creator, spinner of the world,
Today beneath Your power lines a man
Crouched down, his battered palms burnished like leather,
His skin limp with the heat. There he unfurled
Hundreds of wires, tangled, each the span
Of a girl’s hair, and twining all together

Into a tapestry of white and red,
Plastic and steel, with sparks along its frame.
There in that vineyard of electric growth
The old technician labored. All the dread
Built into man, of endless sleep, of flame,
Had long been washed from him. Only his mouth

Betrayed a stiff, knowing determination
As with his hands he combed out every thread –
Each wire, and its dependents, at his mercy.
He could have slashed them all in his frustration
Or left the knot untouched, left them for dead.
And yet he chose to spare the universe he

Himself installed some summertimes ago,
And to repair with craftsman’s tenderness
Each wayward wire. Master of us all,
If he can find that power, still more so
Can You. Unravel us from our distress,
Shield us, forgive us, choose us, hear our call.


Psalm for the Women on Nissim-Behar

Edged by the silver borders of the sea
the women cried out once to You – they sang
out their astonished love, and grasped the sky
in graceful arms. They played on what they had,
timbrels and anklets, baskets, whistles, voices
bright with astonished love – sent out your song
beyond the silver borders of the sea.

Too easy to forget, these days, that sound.
Too easy to forget what shook our bones,
the depths, the deaths, the sudden miracle.
We sing out less these days. But in the bars
and alleyways of Your sweet new-old city,
the women praise You in their youthful bones,
light up the stones with that forgotten sound.

Their eyes are wide, their hair catches the wind,
curly and free; bangles on every wrist
ringing out beauty, skirts that billow out
like eagles’ wings, pleated and fierce.
They bare their arms and dance with every step
and do not know they dance – simply their walk
is dance, unscarred by fear, wide as the wind.

Who is like You, O Lord, who tenders us
the passion couched within our dizzy world,
the chance to fall in love with the horizon,
then, overcome, praise You? Look, on Your streets
the women film and paint, and sing Your language
when they converse in it. Who is like You,
Splendid in holiness, in glory, working wonders?

Sarah Marx (Year ’14-’15)