Laura J. Braverman studied fine art and apparel design at Rhode Island School of Design, and worked internationally in this field for many years. In addition to painting, she now focuses on writing, having completed a writer’s certificate in creative nonfiction with Stanford University. She worked with nonfiction writer Sven Birkerts at the Bennington College graduate writing seminars, took numerous courses in poetry and essay with the New School, and worked with poet James Arthur. Her work was included in Mountain Stories (www.mountainstories.it), Live Encounters and The BeZINE, and will soon appear in Levure Litteraire and California Quarterly.
Fountain at Beit ed-Dine Palace
A courtyard under cerulean blue—
the heat turns stillness into shimmers, leads
you to a pool of water glinting there.
A cloud’s reflection passes over jade
green ripples—how they beckon in the clutch
of sun. And it’s no empty promise. Cold
revives you, tugs you back from torpor’s haze.
Rest. Sit here on the sandstone edge. The court
stands empty, cypress trees unmoving. These
old Druze hills call to you, the hollows, groves.
At home—as I remember—
our bedroom window opened
to an orange tree. Early,
as the moon faded, the strains
of the muezzin echoed
throughout the still city streets.
The garden’s cool light glowed rose
and silver and your eyes still
stung with last night’s images.
Just as the sweet drifting scent
of jasmine, or a balmy
day by the sea, seem hopeless
in winter’s sleep, so it is
with you. Tell me, if I could
lay our story at your feet—
as an offering—would you
bless the gift? Would you send me
the birds that sing at daybreak?
Beirut keeps its stubborn maquillage in place.
Crouched between bright new giants of glass
and steel, regal old houses lose their pastel
painted faces petal by petal. Scrawny cats
slink between dusty potted plants on marble
patios. Behind iron gates, overgrown courtyard
gardens—the few left—guard secrets amidst
choked narrow city streets. Imprints of crossfire
remain—see the riddled skin of building walls.
In mountain villages, afternoon sun warms
rose-gold colored sandstone. Druze elders
wear black sherwal and white knit skullcaps.
On a southern beach near Tyr a woman emerges
Goddess-like from the sea clad in clinging folds.
In Maronite churches funeral dirges echo
in Aramaic—mystic chants of an unreachable
past. The muezzin calls out times for prayer
as bells clang over car horns and construction’s
metallic tumult. Fruit and vegetable sellers
bellow their wares; bombs arc over borders
saluting one the other as they cross paths.
And up beyond the din stand the cedars, sacred
wood once used for King Solomon’s Holy Temple
in nearby Jerusalem. In silence, they rise—the few
left—defiant, sovereign, under Levantine skies.
Poetry in this post: © Laura J. Braverman
Published with the permission of Laura J. Braverman