Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gribbines- A Poem for Passover.

I wrote this poem about about 7 years ago.  It was published as part of an essay on Parashat Bo I submitted for the Men's Torah commentary (Jewish light's Press- Jeff Salkin, Ed.) I like to bring it out around Pesach time- especially if I'm making chicken soup.  Enjoy. 

Gribbenes (parashat Bo)
© Joe Black -  Pesach, 5768

This year, on Pesach, I ate my father’s food:
Gribbenes, Gehachte Leber, and Gefilte Fish*
My Doctor tells me it hardens my arteries
But I think it softens my soul.

I wonder if Pharaoh ate gribbenes?
His heart hardened, melted, hardened, melted –
Like schmaltz
Floating on the surface
With each successive reconstitution --
Thawing, cooling, thickening, slickening
Until, finally
It merges into the mixed multitude
of shredded leeks, onions, bones and flesh that gather
On the bottom of the pot.

Pharaoh, after some prodding, hardened his own heart.
It was he who chilled his veins, sinews and arteries.
It was he who refused to open his eyes to the greasy truth
That haunted him with each successive plague:

Night after sleepless night – he felt them:  
The shortness of breath
The sharp pain that radiated
From the back of his neck to the tips of his fingers…..

If only, godlike, he could have seen the blockage
If only hearing, seeing, welcoming freedom’s cry
Could somehow miraculously have melted away his stubbornness
Flowing effortlessly into the banks of the Nile.

But then, of course,
We would have no story.

*  Gribbenes is rendered chicken fat.  Gehachte Leber is chopped liver, and Gefilte Fish is….Gefilte Fish…..

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