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Perhaps I am Free: A Poem for Shirat HaYam

Perhaps I am Free: A Poem for Shirat HaYam

Image of a sea parting

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat B’shalach, the Israelite slaves, with Pharaoh’s army fast on their heels, cross the Red Sea to freedom. Once on the other side, “[W]hen Israel saw the wondrous power which the Eternal had wielded against the Egyptians, the people feared the Eternal; they had faith in the Eternal and in God’s servant Moses” (Exodus 14:31).

In gratitude and thanksgiving, Moses and the Israelites sang Shirat HaYam (Song of the Sea), which inspired this poem.


Perhaps I am Free

I have never seen such forever water.
I hear its incessant burbling,
a chant, perhaps to God,
Who has come to us as Fire,
Who has come to us as Smoke.
Who has come to us
at last,
bringing wonder and magic
and freedom,
perhaps.

I hear chatter of freedom,
but my back is striped still
and there is this forever Sea,
murmuring its prayers to
the ragged shore.

Perhaps there will be
freedom.

I wish they'd get this
over with, this mad dash
to this Forever Sea
that never stops chattering.
The fire of God rages,
and His smoke smells of
charred wood and honey.
I can taste wind there.
I wonder what freedom
tastes of,and I think
of the sting
of brine on my
wounds.

Still, I like this sea,
this Forever Sea,
that has captured the sky
in its mirrored waves.
They tell us
the only way to freedom
is through its
crashing, crushing
beauty.

But I have learned
to sing its song, to walk
between its silvered edges.
I stand at the rim of earth
and air and fire
and water.
It parts for me,
this Forever Sea.
a slow and liquid splitting.
And the sea,
forever and endless
and never quiet,
is hushed,
waiting, perhaps,
for me to begin.
And so I offer a hymn,
with timbrel and lyre
and ribbons of fire
and smoke,
and I dance.

And perhaps -
perhaps I am free.

Stacey Zisook Robinson is a member of Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston, IL, and Congregation Hakafa in Glencoe, IL. She blogs at Stumbling Towards Meaning.

Stacey Zisook Robinson
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