Today's poem is by Catherine Tufariello

The Feast of Tabernacles

After the final meal hurriedly eaten
Behind doors spattered with lambsblood, sandals and staff
Ready for flight, the rising dough in bowls
Brought on the journey unbaked, the wailing children
Snatched from sleep and huddled into clothes;
After the keeping grief when the Egyptians
Found their own children smothered in their beds
Too suddenly for sound, and then the chase
Across the desert to the Sea of Reeds;
After plunging, panicked, through the corridor
Of water impossibly sundered like a chasm
On either side, then seeing the chariots
Of Pharoah's army roll and disappear,
Shrieking horses and soldiers drowned alike
Under the crumpling walls: after all that,
They must have thought they saw the land of Canaan
Lushly shimmering in the middle distance
Just beyond the column of white smoke—
Never that the high drama of departure
Would be followed by forty years of tedium,
More than fourteen thousand evening meals cooked
And eaten, pots scoured and clothing scrubbed
With never enough water, by stooping women,
While dust and sand got into everything.
Manna, glazing the ground the first morning
Of exile like flakes of hoarfrost, celestial food
Tasting of honey and coriander seed,
Soon grew monotonous as a steady diet.
For Moses, the exclusive interviews
On Sinai punctuated weary years
Of settling quarrels, hearing footsore stragglers
Ask again if they were almost there,
Or grumble resentfully that even bondage
Was better than a life of wandering.
Think how long it must have been before
The death of bitter nostalgia, then of desire
For a promised land that none would ever see;
Longer still before they welcomed joy
To the temporary shelter of the way,
Stars shining through the scattered branches.

Copyright © 2004 Catherine Tufariello All rights reserved
from Keeping My Name
Texas Tech University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Support Verse Daily
Sponsor Verse Daily!

Home    Archives   Web Monthly Features    About Verse Daily   FAQs  Submit to Verse Daily   Publications Noted & Received  

Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved