Originally uploaded by Jerusalem Syndrome.

This is a test, to see how the blogging’ll do with photos attached. This is a photo of my mirpesset (balcony). If you peek over the edge you see lots of trees. It is a good place for davvening, or sitting with tea, or beer, or sunshine, or a book. They are a total part of the local culture–everybody has at least a mirpesset, maybe two (I have two, but the second one is mostly storage and where, eg, I’ll hang my clothes to dry since the washer works but there’s no dryer. There will probably be more pictures of my pad to come, and definitely more of J’lem and my sundry adventures as soon as I have ones more exciting than, “I went to the Supersol and they almost didn’t accept my credit card because paying from the Middle East popped up Wells Fargo fraud warnings” or “I went to the Israel Museum and it took me a sickeningly long amount of time to walk back because I don’t know anything yet.”

Actually, last night was pretty fabulous. Went to hear a friend, Yosefa Raz, read from her new book of poetry, In Exchange For A Homeland at Timol Shilshom, a cafe off of Yafo street that specializes in great cultural events. Her work is so good I think I’ll post a poem here:

Security Check at Allenby Bridge

by Yosefa Raz

I took an old man’s nail clippers
safety pins
I tore wrappers off birthday presents
that were never meant for me.
Shook out a thin, quiet woman’s underwear.

Every cup the woman in the dusty black dress
packed in newspaper
so carefully ­
white china with a green stripe ­
went into a plastic cart.
She pulls at my sleeve.
Perhaps she is saying,
“Don’t break them.”

They told me:
Protect the security of the State.
Wear the uniform with pride.
How to say,
hada mamnua: this is confiscated;
ruch min hun: go in this direction;

how to take the women aside to a booth
when the metal detector goes off,
make them remove bracelet after golden bracelet,
pass the hand-held detector
over arms and legs, chest and back.
Little prices to pay
they say
there is no choice.
A humiliation of small details ­
I fingered a businessman’s toothbrush

I tried to untie the knots of string
holding together the pilgrims’ striped blankets
with my clean white gloves.

The week the pilgrims returned from Mecca
they were detained on buses at the border for three days,
ate cucumbers and yogurt they brought in string bags.
A tall man carrying a beige suitcase told me,
“We are so glad to be home.”

The Jordan river slowed to a trickle;
the lowest spot on earth.
Shed your silver sandals.
Shed your stained white robes.
The concrete is burning.

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