Calls to prayer

Central Tel Aviv of an evening is as glamorous as any posh NYC evening.  At a concert and play women are dressed to the ‘T’s”, as are a sampling of men.  The majority of men, however, seem unconcerned to be stylish, comfortable in unassuming working class threads.

East of the city’s bustle and glamor on a hill just this side of the green line I can hear calls to prayer several times a day.  They float eerily, hauntingly, plaintively, from three separate Arab village Minarets, miles apart.  The drawn-out incantations don’t co-ordinate exactly, covering different distances, sung by different singers, each with a sense of what tenor should be adopted.  So it’s a weird effect, like three photos superimposed (but no single one exactly lining up with the others).  The effect is a raw and soothing sublime – vocal chant in a strange harmonic frame, strangely embellished, from towers that are the highest points by far in the villages in sight on surrounding hilltops. ~~ Harrowing and underworld is the barbed wire erected ten years ago in response to terrorist forays from the direction of the villages . . .  It is a hallowed and harrowed land.

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One comment on “Calls to prayer

  1. dmfant says:

    TEL AVIV BEACH, WINTER ’74

    A crocodile-cloud swallowed a cloud-cloud.
    Everything’s clogged
    and where has the war gone?
    The pier is painted yellow and red
    and ‘TEL AVIV’ is written on it.
    The drums of the deep don’t care.
    Slowly, dark forms in the sky
    go mad. A wrestling ring, endless,
    in slow-motion.
    A crane erect over the Super-
    Hilton. And where’s the war gone?
    A crocodile-cloud swallowed a cloud-cloud.
    Where has the war gone? Up in the depths
    soft she-clouds and planes make love.
    Air fills the lungs with laughter
    and sharp salt.
    The sun is a faded photo.
    Shore birds peck greyly at the sand.
    The muscles of the sea groan.
    A solitary woman in a nylon
    scarf. What is she,
    against a thunderstorm?
    The trampoline is orange, too.
    An old woman, her lips trying:
    he was such an angel
    he was such an angel

    -Raquel Chalfi

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