Into the wreck of stones that had been the Temple, a despair
of waste and scattering, someone stepped to pray, to shield
his words from the wind and thoroughfare.
Whereas, in a late afternoon sky blown
over with shallow clouds, I saw a bare patch of mountain
still shining in a strong stain of sunlight.
Behind him, Elijah followed, asked, Why have you come
to this relic of holiness, deserted by God, open only the sun?
Our shadows lengthening beyond ourselves,
and somehow, ahead of us, a strip of sand, shifting
reminder of an ancient sea blown to this ruinous place,
glowed gold amid the purpling of the landscape.
And what is the voice you heard here, whispering as a dove?
It cried, Oh, my children, my children, what have you done?
At night, stars hang above the desert, a profusion strung
to the dome encircling this feeble place, and the infinite
too big, even herepressed to this rocky field,
pulled heavy to this bright spot, glowing.
But you are wise and should know,
said the prophet. You cannot re-enter here. You can only
walk in the streets; You can only speak loudly as you go.
This is prayer; straddling time, looking
into the vastness and whispering, whispering.