Here’s my first truth of the week: I don’t have a poem for this week and I’m desperate. Truly. This week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim (rules/laws) is one long jazz-like riff with detail upon detail of how to act in the post-Sinai world: what to do with a seduced virgin, a goring ox, a stolen garment, a slave who doesn’t want to be freed. On it goes for verse after verse, a kind of Miss Manners for this new fangled world of freedom. In the midst of everything is the Torah’s lex talionis, the system of crime & penalty summed up as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.
(I am, by the way, rather fond of an eye for an eye. I know that Gandhi said that an eye for an eye makes us all blind, but I’d much prefer this tit for tat to I’m gonna blow your freaking head off ’cause you mistakenly took out my eye. To my thinking, structured retribution is far better than unrestrained vigilantism.)
Anyhoo, this list seems like a heck of a comedown after last week’s amazing spectacle of the giving of The Law and all. Over the years I’ve written at least a half dozen poems for this week – and none of them satisfy me. I just can’t get at the gist of things.
So, dear readers, please help. Take a few moments to read the original texthereand put in your 2 cents (or more). Tell me what comes to mind, what sparks your interest, where the text takes you. No idea or suggestion will be thought out of bounds. You absolutely positively do not have to be “good” at poetry (whatever that means) to participate. This is an equal opportunity plea.
As a tease, here is a beginning that I’m particularly fond of, though haven’t a clue about what to do with it next….
After the glory, the rules. After the broad vista of miracle,
the proximity of order—
If this, then that.