About Forty


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.

Miriam

About Forty

 

Quarantine—that’s the way

I feel about my age—as though

I’ve been quarantined

indefinitely,

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.

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