The Day the Fish Left the River – A Poem for Haftarah Vaera

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I’m starting to feel bad for Egypt and
all the trouble they’re about to have with their fish.

I realize I was a captive there for hundreds of years
though I have no physical memory of this.

I think there’s a name for this kind of empathy –
a syndrome that didn’t exist back when we

were slinging stones to build pyramids.
But now as we remember getting out

Pharaoh is a crocodile and he’s got hooks
in his mouth, and all the Nile’s fish are

sticking to his scales, and all the fish are
leaving the river altogether, leaving Egypt

nothing to eat, and unbuilt buildings to build
all by themselves, all because Pharaoh,

the crocodile Pharaoh, claims to own the river
Claims to be responsible for the wealth of the river,

the now empty river – And now it’s his people’s turn
to vacate for forty years. (Nobody gets out of

the forty year punishment.) I have no idea where
they went – Just that they were unimportant

wherever that was. Until they got to go back
(did I mention it was forty years?) to their river

to their dust. Forever humbled, and doomed
to topple. I only believe so much in prophesy

but I turn on the news and there’s no-one
called Pharaoh anymore.