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Tzama* (Thirst)

Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld

Beneath the Holy Land,
where even water wars are fought,
the troubled springs run deep.
And water, which has properties
to wear on stone, has split the rock.

                                     Lord . . .

                                                   my shepherd.

About suffering, Stefan Grass said,
"Suffering is like salt, bitter in a glass.
Become a lake insteadthen sip the water.
You'll see how sweet it tastes,
with hardly any hint of bitterness."

               (The Jaffa oranges are sweet
               and bigger than grenades.
               We've moved our fences farther in.
               Our neighbors claim the land we left,
               then ours.)

                                     Beside the still waters . . .

Sbarro Pizza,
where a young man opens up his coat,
says to the girl behind the counter,
Know what this is?
so like the exhibitionist
who bares his misused, misplaced
instrument of love

                                     He maketh me to lie down . . .

                                     In green pastures

tents of Palestinians
are buffeted by angry winds,
their throats are parched.
The houses of the Palestinians collapse.

                                     In the house of the Lord,

another scene:  From one side
comes a swarthy man and from the other,
one more swarthy man
sons of the same father.
They face off, raise their instruments,
and aim.  Which will give ground?
Which strike the other first?
Raging thirst propels them.
Nearby the only lake
that's fresh and clear
is Lake Tiberius,
called the Sea of Galilee.
It, too, is troubled water.
Further south, the sea is dead
and full of salt.  How many
Abrahamic sons must fall?

                (Bombs bloom.
                The wolves
                that used to roam
                the Russian Steppes are here.)

                                      Through the valley of the shadow,

a great tree arches over the River Jordan.
It is the tree of the Jewish people.
It is the tree of the Palestinian people.
Its leaves shudder in the wind,
on every leaf a name.

*Hebrew word for "Thirst"



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