Mount Scopus

Michael Peach

While two sleek dots roar overhead,
I set out on foot for Scopus mount:
My first such visit in seven years.
At once I am engulfed in thick exhaust
Emitted from a van obliged by recent law
To park upon the sidewalk of the street.

In morbid vein I trudge through West Jerusalem,
Till halted by the new de facto front –
A monstrous symbol of human haste –
Municipal Highway Number One:
No doubt for certain fundamentalists
The road referred to by a sacred bard
Down which at "End of Days"
Will stroll the region’s folk in peace.

At last a lull. I dash across
And find, with joy, Sheikh Jarah little changed.
My pulse slows down as up the hill
I go.  But what is this!:
The Shepherd’s Hotel, serene before, an ugly army base.

Above the ever-bulldozed Wadi Joz
Gleams Hebrew University on Scopus ridge
Where, midst a maze of airport corridors
Or packed in airtight halls
Named after stars, like Ronald Reagan and his wife,
Our future leaders bide their time:
There’s no way back to Mother Earth.

Before escaping from this lunar fort
Impaled upon Rift Valley’s western brim,
Beyond the concrete mushrooms known as settlements
(Whose access roads have pierced and scarred
A beauty I recall with grief)
Through sealed glass pane I catch a glimpse
Of that memento mori great –
Itself now threatened by hubristic Man:
Yam ha-Melakh or Dead Sea.                    

   12 January 1994

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