licensed alexey stiop
In the Cracks in the Wall
by Elaine Mintzer

I’ve come to the Western Wall with nothing tangible,
not even a clean piece of paper
to add to the missives scribbled
on everything from the finest linen pages
to scraps from torn leaflets or bank receipts.

But I find an old shopping list in my pocket—
honey, cinnamon, almonds, milk—
and I think, but do not write Dear God,
because in my cosmology, God knows
this is for Him. I add—
peace, health, hope.

I press the note into the rock.
In my mind, God sees the list and says,
Go then, to the store. I have need
of dates, of figs, of olives.
And while you’re at it,
pick up that milk and honey.
We’re running low.
I answer, “I’m here. Send me.”

I touch my forehead to the Wall.
There is no one Voice, only the murmurs
of countless tongues in prayer.
A dust devil lifts a few notes from their crevices.
They skitter at my feet.
Heat, rain, and a cleaning crew
will take care of them.

The wind plants its own message
between the blocks of Jerusalem limestone,
seeds that sprout and flower
where no prayer has penetrated,
where without a pruning hand
the thin roots of the voiceless weeds
may someday bring the whole thing down
onto the sea of supplicants.

PHOTO: The Western Wall (Wailing Wall) and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem by Alexy Stioup, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Western Wall, also called Wailing Wall, in the Old City of Jerusalem, is a place of prayer and pilgrimage sacred to the Jewish people. It is the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.  Dating from about the 2nd century BCE, the wall measures about 160 feet long and 60 feet high. The Western Wall now forms part of a larger wall that surrounds the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine dating from the 7th century CE. (Source: Brittanica)

western wall 2

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have been to 50 countries on six continents, and I find the more I travel, the more pleasure I get from connecting the dots of place, history, cultures, and human interactions. I’m terrible at entering text on my phone, so notes I jot down during my trips are frequently indecipherable, though sometimes the energy of the places just radiates from the screen.

PHOTO: A woman places a prayer note (kvitel) between the stones of the Western Wall. Photo by Yoninah, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elaine Mintzer has been published in journals and anthologies, including Beloit Poetry Journal , Calibanonline, Slipstream, Panoplyzine, Lummox, Sugarwater, Lucid Moose Lit’s Like a Girl anthology, The Ekphrastic Review, Cultural Weekly, Rattle, and The Lindenwood Review.  Her work was featured in 13 Los Angeles Poets, and her first collection, Natural Selections, was published by Bombshelter Press. Find her on Facebook.