Here in the Municipal Garden –
all white paths and straggly flowers –

asphalt’s hot beneath one’s feet,
baked in the harsh sun of Jerusalem.

Tombstones in the Muslim graveyard
among unruly tangled olive-trees

stand secretive – but even here
there’s little shade: they are hot to the touch..

Houses, shuttered against noonday heat,
give no hint of what goes on inside.

In narrow alleys of the shopping quarter
what dry flow comes of desert wind

is all-but-imperceptible.
A young soldier on guard at the corner

sweats visibly, has anxious eyes.
Maybe up in orange-grove country,

in bluish hills of Edom far above,
there is a breath of air. But here is none.

From some far distant vantage-point
a watcher with binoculars surveys

the southern suburbs, although what he sees –
if he isn’t blinded by the sun –

is a fearful silence, an uneasy stillness,
a sense of something yet to come,

though all Jerusalem lies swathed meanwhile
in the unforgiving haze of early afternoon.

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