Safed

The little square is full of activity:

Street in Safed (Zefat), Israel

Street in Safed (Zefat), Israel

Buses emit swirls of exhaust

And pilgrims who rise into surrounding streets;

Other clusters of tourists dawdle

In the breezy sunlight,

Admiring the warm stone of the houses

Or drinking coffee in the open air

Outside the gallery at one side of the square.

A narrow alley of artists’ shops

Winds up the hill like a congested snake

To the rarified reaches of tiny synagogues,

Each dedicated to a particular fine point

Of rabbinical thought.

Just out of sight of the square,

A children’s playground sparkles

In sunlit primary colors,

Full of the sound of children’s laughter.

At the top of the square, the old police station

Squats, almost windowless,

A reminder of death in dark concrete,

Its plain, square face pocked with bullet holes.

Here the British kept their own version of order,

Here the tiny band of becoming-Israelis

Drove back the Arabs who intended to claim

Their birthright after the British departure.

What a strange place is this Safed,

What a juxtaposition of bullets, devotion,

Disputation, art, and the laughter of children, under

The gray concrete presence shadowing the square.

 

 

The Police Station at Safed (Zefat), Israel

The Police Station at Safed (Zefat), Israel

 

 

 

 

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