Two essays on Egypt and Israel
A sweet scent before God

On That Day (a poem about moshiach for Big Tent Poetry)




Soft snow will fall
but no one's roof will leak.
No one will wake hungry.
The traumas inscribed in our muscles
will melt like salted ice.
Strangers will show their real smiles
on the subway and the sidewalk.
The Israeli will lie down
with the Palestinian
and rise up clasping hands, saying
brother, it is so good.
Each of us will be the favorite child.
Every place on earth
will be God's holy mountain
where prayers in every idiom
are received. And we will know our fears,
the resentments we used to cherish
as the too-small garments
of the children we no longer want to be.
Torah will splash from every faucet
fill our cups to overflowing
quench our thirst with joy.

This week's Big Tent Poetry prompt invites us to write a poem which cures our winter blues or cabin fever or heartache -- to write a poem as though the thing one longs for were already here.

I toyed with a few different ideas before hitting upon this one in the shower a few days ago, when he image of the Israeli lying down with the Palestinian came to me in a flash. (It's a reference to a line from Isaiah, chapter 11, verse 6: וְגָר זְאֵב עִם-כֶּבֶשׂ, וְנָמֵר עִם-גְּדִי יִרְבָּץ; וְעֵגֶל וּכְפִיר וּמְרִיא יַחְדָּו, וְנַעַר קָטֹן נֹהֵג בָּם. "And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the lion cub, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.")

Of course, I thought: in Jewish tradition, for what do we collectively yearn most? The advent of moshiach -- or, phrased another way, the coming of the messianic age when the work of perfecting creation will be complete. So that's what this poem is about, in a somewhat whimsical way. Some of the images in this poem are drawn from classical Jewish teachings about that day; others are my own invention. The title of the poem is drawn from Jewish liturgy -- from the Aleinu, the prayer which concludes most services, which includes the line bayom hahu, yihyeh Adonai echad u-shmo echad, "On that day, God will be One and God's name will be One."

Here's a link to this week's "Come One, Come All" post so you can see what others did with this prompt.