Helen Bar-Lev, Immagine & Poesia

“WHITE SOLSTICE” (poem)-“SNOW IN THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM” (painting) by Helen Bar-Lev, Israel



BOOK, snow in Old City J-m

White Solstice

If I were a sailor
I’d write a poem
about the forlorn song
of fog horns

If I were a pilot
I’d write about
the blinding whiteness
of clouds

As an Inuit
I’d describe the snow
in a thousand words
of white

If I were an elf
I’d tell about
the gossamer wings
of fairies

But I am a woman
white of hair
remembering past winters
on this solstice day

C 12.2014 Helen Bar-Lev

Helen Bar-Lev, Immagine & Poesia

“The Season Sings a Song of Autumn” poem and painting by Helen Bar-Lev, Israel

BOOK, Autumn in J-m


The Season Sings a Song of Autumn

Squill gone
crocus now
a toad croaks
herons hover above the Hula
a snake pauses,
slithers into crevice,

on the rocks
hyrax scamper
escape hawk

at five night encroaches
rain approaches
a bat flaps utterly silent
silhouetted by a full moon
breaking off now from the mountain
like a balloon released from its moorings

the willow is old and leafless
its limbs a skeleton
in the garden
the old cat buried beneath it

the clementine drops its fruit
the grapevine withers
apples, harvested, depart for market

and we, white of hair,
creased with wrinkles,
wait for winter
like the willow
like the cat

C 11.2009 Helen Bar-Lev



Immagine & Poesia

“Two Zinnias” poem – “Inside the old guest house of the Notre Dame de Sion, Ein Karem, Jerusalem” painting by Helen Bar-Lev, Israel

inside old building


“Inside the old guest house of the Notre Dame de Sion, Ein Karem, Jerusalem”

copyright Helen Bar-Lev


Two Zinnias


Two zinnias in a glazed vase

clipped by nuns’ careful scissors,

are the only decoration in this spartan room

in a convent in Jerusalem

but it is clean, the mattress comfortable

flagstone floors, yellow- and red-ochre,

have been polished to a gleam by passing shoes

these one hundred years, even more


We have returned to Jerusalem

after an absence of some months –

a jittery city, it is more intolerable than ever

horns constantly honk, faces do not smile

congestion and pollution, agitation,

congregate in its centre

together with beggars,

street musicians, religious Jews, Arabs

an incongruent conglomeration

which beckons in a manner I cannot fathom

and repulses with vengeance,

as though one reaction triggers its opposite,

a contradiction of emotions

that is disturbing considering I lived here

for so long and loved it with passion,

wrote love poems in dedication,

painted its landscapes from every angle

until my ability wilted and the brush

could no longer respond to my commands


So that earlier today when I walked

through this city in the heat of its summer

and watched dusk extinguish the gold from its stones,

I noticed a nostalgia for it – for the once-Jerusalem,

almost expecting the present

to disappear behind a curtain

and lo! enter the Jerusalem of old,

the city I knew and yearned to return to,

smaller, happier, more beautiful


These are my thoughts now, late,

in this sanctuary amidst the city’s insanity,

this secluded quaint convent,

where quail and jay and gay flowers reside,

whose energies are lovely, light,

a place that does not disturb

nor disappoint my memories


While the two zinnias in the vase

blink red and pink

in the heat of the night

and soothe me


© 6.2007 Helen Bar-Lev