Monday, February 16, 2009

A Night in Tel Aviv

A Night in Tel Aviv

Dusk settles upon her pale shoulders as
she descends the El Al airplane,
each fragile stride wavers under her weight,
she takes one final step, her feet
hitting the black tarmac, the
suffocating humidity envelops her
as would an octopus, all eight
tentacles sucking out her very breath.

The Ben Gurion airport greets her kindly—
“Welcome to Israel” says the sign,
followed by indecipherable Hebrew and Arabic characters,
the bustle of the airport startles her,
this building meant for arrivals and departures,
crowded with women and men dressed in
traditional Jewish garb--long tattered skirts with
worn turtlenecks, black overcoats concealing crisp
white shirts, and Muslims touching their foreheads
to their prayer mats, their mosaic pattern
reflected in the marble tiles of the floor.

She boards the airport transit bus,
her eyes hungrily consuming the
blurred scenery of human traffic,
this fusion of moving dots
resembling ants in search for food,
swirls of smoke emitted from their exhaust pipes,
inhaled by the prisoners of the cubicles
of the high-rise buildings,
their windows glittering from
the white and red lights of the cars outside.

She arrives to Tel Aviv,
at once the chaos of it all registers—
all five of her senses are inundated with
colors, scents, textures, sounds and flavors:
young soldiers in grass-colored uniforms,
steel, black Uzi submachine guns in hand,
people shopping for blood-colored tomatoes,
parsley, baby cucumbers while being called forth
by vendors screaming in Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, English:
Falafel, shawarma, hummus—very cheap!”

Walking through these thronged streets,
far too small to accommodate humanity,
her body is battered by the push of countless
women, men, children,
their sweat drenched shirts leaving
watermarks upon her blue cotton dress,
as the smell of the sea calls out to her,
its briny scent mixing with that of
cumin, dill weed, and dog urine.

And like a dog on a leash,
she is drawn to the seashore,
the waves crashing against the rock
forming a haunting symphony—
she closes her eyes to breathe
in all the odors, only to hear
the buzz of her alarm clock,
she jerks her eyes open
to solemnly be greeted by
white walls, sheets and the bitter cold of Winter.

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