Songs From the Places In Between
(after Rory Stewart)

by Valerie E. Hess c. 2017

Part V

Waking to church on a Sunday morning,
the Old City seems older.
Dark from shuttered store fronts,
the ancient stones seem to sag even more.
The garbage is more visible
against the green metal doors
silently protecting their treasures and trinkets.
A mourning dove drinks from a fetid puddle.
Sun and blue sky appear briefly
through an opening in the covered passageway.
A nun talks to a suitcase merchant,
open like an early bird waiting
for the sinuous line of pilgrims
who will soon wind their way
through the path of suffering,
adding their prayers to the appointed stations
whose stones have been made holy
by the prayers of many languages
who desperately need them to be authentic.
I climb upward,
slowly, silently,
and round the corner into the open plaza.
Blue sky, sun, white stones swept clean
welcome me
as the bells high above start ringing.
The valley of the shadow
has again been safely navigated.