In the Desert: A Poem for Shabbat Zachor

February 22, 2013Stacey Zisook Robinson, z"l

I remember
I remember slings and arrows,
Cruel fortune that cast me into the desert
No, no-

The first desert was freedom
And faith
And miracle.
So no: not that desert.
This was a desert of

Bound and bordered by ignorance,
Where I was slaughtered--
Together with the other hated,
The other weak
and vulnerable
and less than ones.
The silent and
The Other.

I remember.

I remember
the deserts of sinai
and dachau
the dust of somalia and selma
I dream the salted earth of Capetown
And Cabrini Green
And the poison waters swirling through New Orleans
As they run to the oil-slick sea.

And I remember:
I remember--
Amelek tastes power
Like wine
Like fire.
He sips from a full cup
and it slips down
Filling him
Slithering into a full and bloated belly
Coiling around his heart and
Whispering "Eat!
Nothing is forbidden
In your desert kingdom."

Amelek stretches forth a mighty hand
In the desert,
His desert
of poison and dust
To grab and grasp and tear
Dreaming his dreams
of insatiable power,
of desiccation and
unfillable hungering.
His soul is famine
His touch is despair
He gathers the weak
He takes the Other
And swallows them--
Wanting only

He stretched out his hand--
He stretches out his hand--
He will stretch out his hand
To slake his thirst
Sate his hunger
And need
Until I say "Stop!"
Until I demand "Never again!"
Until I becomes we
And the Other is me
And we remember
And stand together
In that vast and darkened desert
And make it bloom.

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’s Blog, where this poem was originally posted.

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