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A Woman of Valor: An Interpretation for the 21st Century

A Woman of Valor: An Interpretation for the 21st Century

woman's face in profile/abstract with dark hair that looks like smoke

She doesn't feel brave,
except sometimes she does.
She feels the weight of rubies
and gold twist on her fingers;
she prefers a crown of flowers
in her hair to cold metal
and the straight-edged lines
of rocks.

She doesn't feel brave,
except when she does
in her heart -
  the heart of a wife
  and daughter
  mother, perhaps
  Or not - childless,
    by choice or
    unseen circumstance.

Weaver of tales, spinner of
fine linen that snags
sometimes, and she smooths it
with supple fingers -
slim fingers -
crooked and thick-with-age fingers.
She pulls the threads
that pulls the cloth.
There is beauty in its folds.

She doesn't feel brave,
but she laughs,
and it sounds like water
and light; and she knows goodness
and sometimes pain,
and the law of kindness
is on her tongue.

She doesn't feel strong,
but she rises when she falls,
because there are bills to pay
and dinner to fix
and papers to grade
and sometimes write.
There are knees to bandage
and meetings to endure
and the clock just keeps ticking.
And there are friends to love,
and family to love,
and self to love -
yes: self to love,
sometimes.

She rises, exhausted.
She rises, in joy.
She rises, trembling.
She rises, fearless.
She rises, bruised.
She rises, alone.
She rises, lonely.
She rises.

She knows nothing of valor
or the value of rubies.
She rises, and does not feel strong,
but sometimes she knows blessings
and a stumbling bit of grace.

This poem is an interpretation based on Proverbs 31:10-31, which is also known as "Eshet Chayil," A Woman of Valor.

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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