This poem, written for a challenge at Wild Poetry Forum, came to mind when a friend posted something about Miriam, Moses’ sister, on Facebook tonight. The middle stanza refers to an incident in which she was struck with leprosy for smarting off to her younger bother. She was consequently required to spend seven days in quarantine outside the camp.
Quarantine—that’s the way
I feel about my age—as though
I’ve been quarantined
no longer young enough
to dance the night away,
to giggle with the pretty girls
in the center of the room,
to cast an effective “come hither” glance.
About forty—the number of years
we wandered in the desert,
although the quarantine back then
lasted only seven days,
even for smart-mouthed sisters
who incurred the wrath of G-D.
After forty years,
our babies have grown,
our shoe leather has molded to our feet,
our teenagers have worn out their angst, become reasonable,
and we have become the bumbling, tired fools
that command the highest ceremonial places
where no one
will listen to a word we say.