Speaking My Words – A poem for Parsha Chayei Sara (Aliyah 4)

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I will not eat until I have spoken my words.

Genesis 24:33

I understand the sensibility
though I usually say I will not
drink until I have spoken my words.

Once, in Long Beach, a city
that someday may not exist
I was invited to speak my words.

It was at a bar where people
often speak their words, regardless
of whether anyone is listening.

I had one of the things they
serve at the bar, and then when
it was my turn to speak my words

because I’m a lightweight
my words at the microphone
dribbled out of my mouth

like the guy with his finger
in a hole in Amsterdam
had given up.

My words weren’t the shape
they were supposed to be
and I did not go home

with the trophy.
I learned then there is
a certain order to things.

Number one:
Say your words first
before you drink or eat.

The words are the imperative.
The eat and drink are the reward.
Number two:

I probably shouldn’t have
numbered this because
I don’t have a number two.

Number three: Be consistent
with your words. Sometimes
the details change in the retelling.

We are a people of the words.
We won’t get to take our b’sheret
home from the well

if we’re a glutton at the table
if we forget why we brought
our camels here in the first place.

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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