Momentary heartbeats, or: Silence

Jerusalem, Israel

We live in Jerusalem, our apartment at an intersection on a major thoroughfare, the central north-south artery running through the city center. This is convenient for a family with no vehicle; a bus stop rests just outside our window, making the Jerusalem downtown readily accessible.

As you can well imagine, we constantly hear the sounds of traffic from our home. Ambulances, police cars, honking, stop announcements from passing busses… Our landlord told me that he could never live in such a noisy place as this (his grandparents were the ones who purchased and once lived in this apartment). Nevertheless, none of this bothers us – we’re used to noisy city life.

Right now, at 1:40 AM, the bus stop sits empty, visible under the street lights. Little Israeli flags flutter above it, stretching over the thoroughfare, as Israel Independence Day was just two weeks ago. The soft rumbling of car engines is heard, a reminder of humanity’s footprint. The day’s heavy winds have given way to a chilly night breeze, but it’s strong enough yet that I decided to pull the window closed immediately after snapping a photograph.

Stillness in motion
Silence is momentary
Israel's heartbeats

d’Verse haibun Monday:

‘The present moment’

The d’Verse prompt: Let us now bear witness to the present moment! However you experience it, write a haibun that expresses the present moment.

98 thoughts on “Momentary heartbeats, or: Silence”

    1. Benita – you know – that is what I probably love most about blogging. Here in Israel, I feel so — surrounded by my Jewish identity. I remember last Christmas (my first since I started blogging) when everyone else was posting about Christmas on their blogs, I felt so happy to feel a part of other [kinds of] people’s experiences.


      1. This year the government has created a whole new holiday for us. It is based around the Pleiades position in the Southern Hemisphere (N.Z. in particular) in June (not sure of the date yet as it’s based on their visibility). Anyway, Maori people always took this as their New Year. The time when we here move upward into spring. The holiday will go by its Maori name of Matariki. I’ll have to let you know nearer to it is coming.

  1. I’m impressed with the fact your life is far removed from that with which I’m familiar, and yet we meet in this cyber-space with common goal. Something to think about.

  2. Looking at your photo, it appears that you don’t get much darkness where you’re at. Do you have have light blocking shades, I hope?

    1. well, our bedroom doesn’t face the light… so it’s not a problem for us πŸ™‚
      (and, yes, we have shades on the side where it’s most sunny, Lisa)


  3. This is really lovely. A peaceful snapshot of a noisy corner. πŸ™‚. Noise is all about what you’re used to. I had a friend who lived on an intersection like yours. She came to my 21st and camped on my parents’ bush property. She said the frogs and insects kept her awake all night. “So noisy!” She complained. πŸ™‚.

    1. Noise is all about what you’re used to.

      Yes! We visited a friend for Shabbat a few weeks ago, and she lives in another city (in the north) which is much quieter, but there are lots of birds chirping outside of her window… I felt like I was listening to an orchestra up close and personal!


  4. A wonderful snapshot of your life in Jerusalem, David. The hum around you soon blends together and becomes background noise. I love the late night feel to your haibun. The haiku is great! Well done.

  5. The descriptions of the sounds and weather and a bit about the history of the apartment as well your own, made this an enjoyable read with the bonus of a lovely haiku. Nice job, David. πŸ˜ƒ

  6. So beautifully captured, David. I quite love how you expressed the beauty of city life in Israel. I understand how some don’t like the bustle, but I’d imagine it’d be like living near train tracks (which I have), you just adjust to the noise and it becomes home. I enjoyed reading this very much, it’s smooth prose with an especially wondrous haiku as the finale. The sound is a heartbeat indeed.

  7. I’m smiling just thinking about the night sounds of your city… My grandmother lived on a major thoroughfare. When I’d spend the night I’d sleep in the front room looking out toward the street. It was hard to fall asleep with the lights and traffic. When she would come stay with us she complained that the country was too quiet! The haiku captures the night pause and city pulse – excellent!!

  8. I really like that, mate. The stillness, the noise. The heartbeat of the city. And what a city! And to follow up on what you wrote to me earlier, I enjoy the photo, and what would make it all the better–put yourself in the frame next time. I would love that.

      1. Self-conscious? Now why does that not surprise me? Well, it is at least pleasing to see the other images you share, and after all, your words paint an abundance of images in my mind. Although to be fair, mate, the image you’ve used as your–what are they called? avatars?–on WP conveys such a pleasant kind demeanor. Even playful. Borderline cheeky, I would say. That, my friend, is not a face to hide.

        1. you know, George, I was at the dentist’s office today, and he couldn’t believe that I was 41 yrs old and married with a child. He assumed I was in my early 30’s.

          of course, maybe he was just trying to butter up a customer πŸ˜‰

        2. My goodness! Forty-one? And married? With a daughter? How dare you not have more stress lines across your face, you awful man, you! πŸ˜‰

  9. For me the inner city is an orchestra, percussion, woodwinds, horns, chorus and sirens. I use a fan at night to create the white noise that lulls me. Our international fellowship is a cherished and remarkable thing.

  10. Jerusalem must be a very interesting place to live! I enjoyed life in DC for seven years, but mostly, I am a small-town girl! Your description of city life and your lovely haiku show true affection for your home! ❀ All the best, David!

  11. My son lives in a third floor apartment in Queens. The elevated subway runs outside his window. Everytime I visit I feel like we are sleeping in a train station.

  12. Such a beautiful post, David! I enjoyed reading this haibun (had to look up the form) and also the replies from your commenters. Thank you for sharing an insight into your personal surroundings along with the photograph. I’ve lived in the countryside all of my life, but I think I would also like being amongst all the people in a city.
    You’re getting me so interested in all these different forms of poetry!

    1. You’re getting me so interested in all these different forms of poetry!

      Well, Lesley, that’s what creating a blog on WordPress did for me… I didn’t even know that these many forms existed before!


  13. What a terrific post. It feels like we are there with you.

    I have numerous wind chimes in my back yard. They are so soothing to me. When I am on the phone outside I am often asked to take my phone off speaker because others find it distracting.

    We are all lucky if we can enjoy the environment we choose to live in. I am suburb lady who happily has had enough experiences in many environments to know this is where my peace is.

    Nice job David.

    PS: It’s nice to see I am not the only one writing in the middle of the night.

  14. It is strange how those sounds around you appear in your poem to be so comforting. It must be Israel herself that provides the comfort in the storm. Thank you for taking that photo.

    1. TPS, I think it is, in part, Israel (and Jerusalem specifically – because this is where I was born and feel that I most belong)… and I think it’s also, in part, simply being used to where I live.


        1. no, it’s a logical assumption – I moved to the USA when I was ~1.5 yrs old πŸ™‚ … and then I moved back to Israel when I was ~30 yrs old.

        2. How lovely! I have very sore celiac rash, and decided to buy some dead sea salt. It soothed it completely. I wish I could come bathe in the dead sea. Maybe one day.

        3. For that, I do not blame you one bit! I even tossed the idea around of it being a safe haven, but decided that the burden of religion would be too much, and of my mother’s actions. There is much I love about the US, but much I am increasingly horrified by. I honestly feel like I am in exile and I have no home.

  15. I do feel you captured the heartbeat of the city here, especially in the concluding haiku. Thank you for enabling me to visit a place I have never been!

  16. Your haibun reminded me of life in London, David, which was very similar. I too was used to traffic and other noises. For the last 30 years I’ve lived in quiet villages with no streetlights and very little traffic. Now I can’t bear the noise. I suppose it’s what you get used to.

  17. The way the city has such a grand presence but can also feel so calm and tranquil. You’ve managed to display that in the rustling flag, the heartbeat that you can feel but must really strain to hear. Enjoy this haibun, David.

  18. What I find interesting, David, is that the scene you describe and that image could be a location in any large city, anywhere in the world. And then there’s the twist with the inclusion of a few flags above a bus shelter. As someone, not I, once said, “Nailed it.”

      1. It’s a surreal time. I enjoy the night too sometimes. When I’m camping and awaken just before dawn, there is a beautiful pause between night and day. The crickets stop chirping and there’s a silence (like a prayer) before the morning birds start singing. It is something extraordinary to witness.
        Thanks and best wishes, David.

        1. I’ve done day care for so long, functioning in chaos by ignoring noise and motion, is my creative place. I do appreciate the recharge of being alone, but have learned not to require it. lol πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks so much, Dale! I really appreciate it. πŸ™‚

      BTW, please feel free to call me ‘David’ ~ that’s my first name. ‘ben’ just means ‘son of’ in Hebrew, and my father’s name was ‘Alexander’.


        1. But now we know and have learned something πŸ™‚
          It’s like Fitz or Mac before a Scottish or Irish name means ‘son of’ as well

  19. This is a brilliant piece, I felt like I was there with you. I’v got to admit, I don’t think I could live with all the noise, either that or I’d need to buy some really good double glazing. Thanks for the wonderful read

      1. I moved here when I was 19 to go to Fashion School, not intending to stay. But the city suits me–I really hated the suburbs where I grew up.

  20. Very beautiful David! I like what you had to say and your lovely poem. Hope you are having a great week my friend. Love and hugs to you and your family – Joni xoxoxo

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