Words and Sheep — A poem for Parsha Matot-Masei (Aliyah 3)

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Shall your brethren go to war while you stay here?

Numbers 32:6

I used my twenty-first century sensibility
and technological skills, to determine the
feminine equivalent of the word bretheren
is the used-even-less word sistern.

I am pleased to live in an age where everyone
of all the genders, is qualified to go to war
and wished I lived in an age where no-one
of any-gender would go to war.

The Israelites are about to go to war across a river,
against a people who do not know they are coming
based on a supernatural promise that the dirt
they are heading to, is their dirt.

The descendants of those who did not want to go
still do not want to go. They want to build houses
for their sheep, or sheepfolds, which is another
word that exists, according to the keeper of words.

Words are exchanged and Moses, who has been
dealing with these shenanigans since a bush
burst into flames one day while he was tending
to his sheep who were far from their sheepfolds

reminds them, this whole thing shouldn’t have
taken forty years, but for the complaints of your
anti-war hippy moms and dads (oh, let’s face it
really just dads which is why no one says
sistern any more.)

And they, the complainers, the ones who feel
the dirt on this side of the river is pretty good dirt
for their sheep, relent and say oh yea, we will
go to war over there out of a sense of civic duty

and because of all the words you said, and then
we will come back over here where our sheep
in their sheepfolds (once you use a word three times
it is your word) will act as if nothing has happened.

And so it was written, and without wanting to
give away the ending (though you may have
read this last year, and the year before) this is
exactly what happened.

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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