Poetry: g-d contended land

 

 

the wall stands before me, solid and crumbling all at once

wailing under the weight of time and pressure and prayers

pieces of paper are smoothed gently into cracks

and the cracks are soothed by kisses and tears

by those who stand in the g-d contended land

 

i stand in front of the wall and wonder

how much hardship have you seen through all of this time?

did you cry when my people poured into israel after the holocaust

and held tightly onto you like you were g-d himself?

i know that you hugged them back

 

next to me stands a young israeli girl, rocking back and forth through the aleinu

on my other side is a holocaust survivor

she says the shema like a lullaby through teary eyes

i am american, i do not speak a word of hebrew, i only know enough prayers to fill a child’s hand

but here, surrounded by my brethren, i pray without guilt of my ignorance

 

you see

my friends do not know that when i come here, that when i step on g-d’s contended land

any tension i have fades away for the first time in five thousand years

because i am in one of the only places where i can be me

israel is home to me, home to my people, and will be home no matter where i end up

 

i feel a kinship with everyone i lay eyes on

even with the strangers that sell falafel and shawarma in the sun-bathed cobblestone streets

here i do not speak in hushed whispers about my judaism

for once in my life, for once in my people’s lives, i can be loud

my words to Hashem can be strong enough for him to hear

and by g-d it feels like slipping off tight shoes after a long day

it feels like comfort food and warm pajamas after exams

it feels like coming home for the first time, every time

 

so i stand at the wall and let myself relax

let myself be taken away by the thousands of murmurs of davening jews

let myself be taken through the gap in the red sea

let myself be taken home

 

Emily Chester, 16, of Bayside, is a junior at Nicolet High School. She wrote this poem for a creative writing class after reflecting upon her two trips to Israel with her family.