Jerusalem As a Second Language

        For Asher, a time of confusion, a time of desire.                    
	One month, and he had yet to kiss Galina, yet to hold her hand. Their most intimate moments were when he watched her dance The Mediterranean Wiggle, The Snake Shake, The Belly Button Roll, in music clubs in the Russian Compound neigh-borhood: dank cubicles, dense with cigarette smoke and the din of guitar, saxophone, xylophone, drum, with the loud, eager, bullying voices of university students released from rules, out for a “catharsis,” a word that was to Asher the code name for trouble.   

	Galina danced, but not with him, never with him; Asher wouldn’t perform these bold, terrifying, forbidden movements. Dressed in knit tops cut to show her silky shoulders, and miniscule skirts cut to show everything, she danced with male and female friends, sometimes both at once. In that sacred space between hem and knee, resided enough promise of heaven to fortify his wavering patience.   
	Asher had always hated confusion. His life was saturated by orderliness, built firmly upon four solid, eternal cornerstones: scholarship, professorship, worship, kinship. And what of a loving man-woman relationship? Later, he had reasoned, this would happen later. Did the Bible not say, a time for everything and everything in its season? 
	That was then, however. This was now. This was the time of Galina.
	On their fourth date – date, how he disliked that word; it sounded false, superficial, not good enough to describe all he yearned for -- he parked his almost new Volvo on the Haas Promenade looking down upon the Talpiyot neighborhood; the most beautiful night time view in Jerusalem; or, so he’d heard. He was not a sitter in parked cars, and never with a woman. The rain that had been falling all day, unusual for June, slowed to a misty drizzle. Jerusalem lay spread beneath, like a dark, sequined blanket.
Salamander at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival!
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