At dawn, when I face east and cypresses, I smell the ocean.
In the stillness of the heat I hear the palm tree creaking,
dates dropping on cement. Blinds clatter,
when night falls with the temperature, fragments of Hebrew
fill my room, the song of crickets, not cicadas.
I caress each new book on the bamboo shelves.
Another city lies beyond my street’s retrofitted buildings,
my previous encampments are within me, far away.
I say their names out loud to remember how I got here
and where to go, I wonder if we or the heavens choose
when to close one circle and start another.
I recall my last walk down the Slope, past spread-out tables
and makeshift shelters lit by colored bulbs, adorned with flowers,
like sukkahs sprinkled across the neighborhood before their time.
How free I felt in my solitude before departing,
how free the diners seemed, restricted by a new-won liberty,
outside, underneath canopies and flimsy tarps,
tranquility afforded by an emergency response.
Julia Knobloch is a student at the Ziegler School for Rabbinic Studied and published her debut full-length poetry collection Do Not Return in 2019 with Broadstone Books.