Merry Go Round

Photo credit: jayhawksean from flickr

Jerusalem is a Merry Go Round

Yehuda Amichai

Jerusalem is a merry-go-round spinning and spinning
from the Old City to all the neighbourhoods and back to the Old.
And you can’t get off it. Whoever jumps off takes his life in his hands.
And whoever gets off after one turn has to pay again
to get back on for turns without end.
And instead of elephants and prancing horses
there are religions that go up and down and also spin on
their axis to the sound of well-oiled melodies from the prayer-houses.
Jerusalem is a see-saw; sometimes I dip down
into past generations and sometimes I rise skywards and then
yell like a child yelling, his legs swinging way up
I want to get off, Dad, I want to get off,
Dad, help me off.
And that’s how all the holy men ascend to heaven
like children shouting, Father I want to stay up here,
Father, don’t get me down, our Father our King,*
Leave us up here, our Father our King!

Translated by Aloma Halter

Avinu Malkaynu – a refrain from the liturgy of the High Holy days: The New Year and Day of Atonement.


About hilarymead

Taking two young kids, a great husband, and a whole lot of questions to Jerusalem for a year's sabbatical.
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