the exile

Sharon H. Nelson

"the exile" appeared in Sayings Of My Fathers, Menard Press, London, 1972.

the exile

oh exile i remember
your long sweet moments
when Israel was yet a people
and Zion but a dream on the lip of the oppressed

oh exile i remember
the gutters of homelessness
that were my home
when my spirit lodged
only in the mountain of
Jerusalem

how sweet the bitter cup
the booted heel, the alien
stuttering tongue we suffered
with the sound of Jerusalem
always in our ears
for we put Jerusalem
above our chiefest joy
and now we are come here
to this city of rubble
and we are here as strangers
in a bitter land

we weep when we remember Zion
we weep for a remnant
there are butchers and cutters
and nowhere a tailor
that thread has unravelled
and the garment cannot be
put on
oh exile your name
is sweet on our tongues

Sharon H. Nelson. 15 March 1999.