Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Thief

My father lay upon the bed
Death caressed his gentle head
In an aged, wavering, quiet voice
He called to us; he made his choice
"Avi," he markedly said,
"Please come over to the bed."

I looked around; no one was near;
I was the only one to hear.
I crept over to my father's bed,
and coming close, bowed my head.
In this way he could not know
I was not the son he chose.

"Avi," he said, but it was me,
Motek, to whom he did speak.
"I bless you with a thousand stars;
I hope you travel very far.
I pray that God will care for you-
guard your shoelace and your shoe."

At that he gave a simple smile,
deceived by me all the while.
He opened his mouth- perhaps to bless-
but a guttural cry's all that was left.
He motioned me, and with a kiss
he left this world, ceased to exist.

I stood there, totally horror-struck;
it seemed the world had run amok.
In a moment I'd lost my father,
stolen the blessings from my brother.
And I had taken that last kiss;
he'd aimed it but it went amiss.

It was I who had been given
my father's words of final wisdom.
But it was the kiss that burned,
a mark of shame, token unearned.
My mother rushed into the room
and fell into a gentle swoon.

Avi led her to a chair,
awakened her, stood by her there.
"Motek," he asked, "are you all right?
You seem to have turned very white.
Don't worry," he so kindly said,
"Father's with us, just instead

of being here in mortal form
he watches over we who are forlorn.
He lives now in the rainbow sky
alongside God, enthroned on High."
He only meant these words to cheer;
they filled me with unechoed fear.

"I have stolen what was not mine,
that kiss- it burns- it was a lie.
Father meant it for my brother;
I stole what was meant for another.
What kind of evil one am I?
I almost wish that I could die."

So I thought but did not say;
It was not the time or place, that day.
Besides, to tell him would hurt more
Than to carry the secret for
eternity, unto my grave.
It was him I meant to save.

"I cannot pay it back," I thought.
"It is evil I have wrought.
I took what I cannot repay-
not tomorrow, not today!
Should I sell myself as a slave?
A cur am I, an outright knave."

These thoughts troubled my pensive mind;
Other ones haunted me in kind.
I kissed Avi, hugged him as well
but could not bring myself to tell
I had done this in an attempt
to place the kiss where it was meant.

"Dear God," I prayed, my shame complete,
"I know I'm nothing but a cheat.
I want to make amends, but how?
There is no way to fix it now.
I am a thief- that much is clear-
I stole my father's kiss so dear."

In pain I slept, in pain I woke;
the tears in sleep almost did choke.
I had no idea what to do,
so much my actions I did rue.
At last I pledged to God this much-
"From now on I've decided you can trust

me to be anything- but not a thief.
No longer shall I deceive."
I went out of my way to try
to be honest, not to lie.
I wanted so to tell Avi
of the kiss I took for me.

But in my dream God warned me that
would hurt Avi more, in fact.
"Don't tell him," He said. "It would be cruel.
Accept the suffering that is your due.
I will bless him with My kiss
in lieu of your dedicated service."

All year round I work so that
Avi will live off of the fat
of my sinews and my blood,
the land I dedicate to him with love.
I hope this way the kiss I give
enables God to choose to forgive.

My secret sorrow, my quiet pain,
Lies in my knowledge of this gain.
I should not have taken what was not meant
for me, not Heaven-sent.
And when I pray I cry aloud,
"God," I say, "let me not be proud!"

"I am as low as the common thief.
I stole- now shall I receive
the punishment You give with love
to purify me up above.
But God, it is the pain that cleans;
use everything within Your means."

The people think that I am pure,
untouched by any taint or lure.
But in my heart a secret shame
tinges my blood, my very veins.
I know that I have stolen that
which I cannot- ever- give back.

I know myself to be a thief
unpardoned, much to my own grief.
I pray to God, and hope one day
He will take my shame away.
Because, you see, I can't regret
my father's kiss- and what it meant.

I would do it again- for me-
so do I crave for him to see
that I, Motek, am as worthwhile as
my brother Avi, with his pizazz.
I can't regret that it's my kiss,
my moment of eternal bliss.

I tell as much to God at night,
beg him to illuminate me with His light.
Help me so I know that I
never again watch someone die
and take from them what is not mine,
unreturnable through coin or fine.

I hope one day that God will see
The Thief is not who I'm meant to be.
I hope that Avi can forgive;
I hope one day that I shall live
without the shame- the dark disgrace-
of knowing I took another's place.

But till that day, upon this night
of hallowed Godly-given light,
the beginning of the year,
the day of awe and truth and fear,
I pray to God that he forgives.
I hope that He will let me live.


Stubborn and Strong said...

I wondered how Yaakov Avinu feels about that????

Frostonymous said...

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Chana said...

Stubborn and Strong,

That's why I always preferred Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' approach to the matter of the blessings by Yaakov and Eisav.


I don't quite understand what Frost's poem has to do with mine. However, you may enjoy reading R' Aharon Lichtenstein's understanding of this poem. He talks about it regarding Torah U-Madda and notes:

"It is easy to devote yourself to Torah if you are convinced that everything else is nonsense. Nonsense is easy to give up. But one who sees the beauty in God’s creation, who comes to love it, must be strong in order to devote himself to learning Torah. One must not divorce the world, but rather bear in mind one’s “lover’s quarrel with the world.”

Truer words have not been spoken.

Frostonymous said...

>I don't quite understand what Frost's poem has to do with mine.

The meter of your poem struck me as very similar to Frost's. I don't know if you hear it as well.

The poem's reference to insomnia was purely coincidental :)

Shanah tovah...

Dude with hat (aka BTS) said...

Very sad but very deep. May be i am missing the point but who wrote this? You?

the only way i know said...

the poem is very touching and beautiful and true for me as well

Shana Tova

Uri said...

Well written and meaningful!
May you have a blessed year!

Anonymous said...

Impressive and touching. I was wondering if the names you picked for the brothers have a significance you might care to share with us?

Chana said...

Anon 4:13,

Avi because that literally translates to 'my father' and thus it emphasizes the connection between Avi and his father. Also because one of my favorite people is named Avi.

Motek because of the adage 'stolen waters are sweet' and to demonstrate that he really *is* a pure and sweet child, even if he has strayed.