I Pet the Wild Beasts – A poem for Parsha Vaera (Aliyah 6)

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…and a heavy mixture of noxious creatures came to Pharaoh's house and his servants' house, and throughout the entire land of Egypt…

Thanks to my inability to look into the face
of any creature and think of them as noxious
a commandment was set upon my house that

I am not allowed to feed the outside cats.
(Or the outside coyotes, or outside squirrels.)
This commandment came down from

my wife on high when she saw that there
were four cats in our house one day and
determined that this was too many cats.

It didn’t help when one of them had babies
and, for the all-too-briefest time, there were
nine cats in our house. Some of them, so small

and furry, and cute, that the word noxious
took up permanent residence outside of
our vocabulary.

My first inclination, when a squirrel found its way
into our house (not through any efforts I made.
It was just inside the house somehow, sitting

on top of one of the treadmill arms, close to the
backyard screen door and the rest of its world)
was to try to give it a carrot. Oh that squirrel

must be hungry was the first thing I thought
and not how can I get this squirrel out of the house
as, undoubtedly, my wife would have preferred.

If I were Pharaoh, wild beasts never would have
worked on me as I would be commanding my people
to pet them…not into submission, but until they knew

we were on their side. Until word got out in the
wild beast community that Egypt may just be
the place to be. Of course, I am not Pharaoh and

those furry faces just hardened his heart reminding us,
Egypt is never the place to be…not when a promised land
is just across the river, only forty years away.

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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