"A Shiver in the Air:" A poem written by a guest of Tantur

Author: Colleen Wilcox

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England-based writer and poet Ann Jean Blyth Phillips (pictured on the right) recently visited the Tantur Ecumenical Institute, accompanying a friend who was conducting research. Phillips is no stranger to the Holy Land. She took a pilgrimage several years ago, but also has a more personal connection. She is the great granddaughter of Bishop Blyth, who served as the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem from 1887 to 1914. Phillips is currently writing a memoir about his life and his time in the Middle East. She also wrote a series of poems while staying at Tantur. She is sharing her latest poem titled, “A Shiver in the Air.”


A Shiver in the Air

A slight chorus of bird song

an intermission, an intermezzo.


Beyond stone walls, pomelo trees’

dusty leaves and heavy fruit

provide a perch. The day springs awake

in an immersion of light.


A sibilant sound, like

a sigh in the tops of tall trees

as gentle breezes from far hills

send shivers through the air.


Fluting notes tremble in

the fall of fountains splashing

into blue depths of tiled pools.


I am seated in lush gardens

surrounded by stone walls and bare ground,

where olive trees stand gravely sentinel

over acres of given land,

their bruised branches being lately beaten,

submissive now offer

ripe fruit to the stone press.


Here, in this sanctuary set next

to the Hebron road,

not far from Jerusalem

or Bethlehem, two places beloved

by three faiths, I sit and reflect.


The bare soil echoes the sadness of my heart

as I recall the divisions, conflicts

which afflict this land.


No in-between times here,

the night falls swift and heavy

while bones weary from sun’s heat

creak to rest at last.