The Wounded Healer

(Dedicated to Dr. Michael Avishai)

I dreamt I met an old man
In the Jerusalem Botanic Garden,
A volunteer named Israel.
I’m a Holocaust survivor, he confided,
And ex-settler on the West Bank.
I’m also a healer, he added quietly,
And activist for peace
Between nations.

Before I could respond he continued:
A year ago I came up to Jerusalem.
On the first day
I visited the Western Wall
To pray for a Third Temple;
On the second day
I forced myself to enter
Yad Vashem,
The Holocaust memorial.
There in the heart of that dark
And dreadful mystery,
Through my tears, I beheld
A German pilgrim
Silently flagellate himself
With his unrepentant father’s guilt.
Suddenly I found this man
In my arms’ embrace:
Go in peace, my son, I blessed.
On the third day
I found this miraculous garden –
Community center – wildlife sanctuary –
Paradise regained.
It was here I discovered
That, though still wounded,
I am whole.


21 March 2011