Memorial – by Ben Corvo


I lost my way bicycling to the cemetery,
the famous one, frequented by tourists and pilgrims,
opposite the Old City, occupying

an entire shoulder of the Mount of Olives—
How could I miss it? Let’s be a bit more precise.
Like any city, the immense necropolis

is given to sprawl, filling the interstices
of the surrounding neighborhoods of the living,
sometimes spilling over them, maybe

obliterating them altogether. Imagine a city
in a city, walled on all sides, with few easy
passages through it, so if you find yourself outside,

among the living, the shortest distance between two points
is not a straight line. And I am, still, among the living.


The outlying eastern neighborhoods that cling
to the ridgelines and upper slopes before they fall
into ravines, and eventually the graben

of the Dead Sea—I was doing circles and circles
out there, occasionally catching a glimpse,
a cemetery annex, maybe the precise plot

I had aimed for but missed
and now was seeing through gulfs of empty air
with no clear way back, a ghost almost, its presence

unacknowledged if even recognized, a prayer
uttered de profundis somewhere, and now wisping
among mountaintops, these ones, a friend’s father,

the memorial I was supposed to attend, a distance
that never closed, and afterward never closes.

Ben Corvo ( lives and writes in Jerusalem. His work has appeared previously in Salmagundi, Magma, and other publications.