The brilliant morning sunshine bathes the Jaffa Road,
Lighting up the Dome of the Rock in the Old City.
Fathers and mothers scurry along the street
To their respective daily tasks.
And happy children laden with heavy satchels
Hurry off to their schools.
The snarled-up traffic inches painfully forward,
And a packed bus trundles past.
Another beautiful day in Jerusalem has dawned.
Suddenly a tremendous roar fills the air
A flash and a violent shaking, and
A moment’s eerie silence.
Hitting the walls and slamming onto the road.
The air is rent with the screams of the injured
And the moans of the dying.
A baby’s head sits grotesquely on the sidewalk
And the blood-spattered walls of a nearby balcony
Peer down on a forlorn arm, torn from its mooring
And clad still in green-sleeve and gold watch.
The acrid smell of burning flesh fills the nostrils.
In the distance is heard the wail of approaching ambulances
And the insistent cacophony of screeching sirens.
Frantic hands begin to pull out the living and the dead
From the twisted and scarred metal of the bus.
The shocked and bleeding survivors are hurried away
And the dead, packed in rows beside the bus,
Also wait their turn to be carried to their place.
On the curb a young woman sits silently sobbing
‘Twas but a short moment that the bus,
Bearing its freight of human souls,
Rode by and into eternity.
The brilliant sun still bathes the Jaffa Road,
And the Dome continues to reflect the light,
As if nothing has happened
And Rachel, our mother, still sits on that curb,
Keeping her centuries’ long vigil,
Weeping for her children,
Because they are no more.
God, were You there when the bus rode past?
© Ruth Nessim