Linda Hepner

Veteran Poet - 1,166 Points (London)

Dinah In Egypt - Poem by Linda Hepner

Who would have thought in exile I'd find freedom?
Who here would ever see the irony?
Who here has ever cared a fig about me?

I have twelve brothers. You would think with wisdom,
understanding, knowledge they espouse,
they would love me now, and mother Leah
would dry her eyes for once and comb my long black hair.

My father Jacob sits here at the door. An old man now,
rheumy eyed, bewildered,
they let him watch me weave alone. Serah, my little niece,
sweet spy, runs in and out, barefoot,
bringing me milk and singing.

But Jacob sighs, "Oh Rachel, how I loved you, "
and peering at me, praises, "Joseph, son,
you're like your mother! She
would glow with joy to see you now,
all of us bowing to you, yet you light my tent
and are not proud, while to your brothers bringing
as well as justice they pursue, a heartfilled peace."

I answer in a low voice, "Father,
I am your daughter, Dinah, bless me like your sons."
He smiles and nods, and I flee, veiled
to shield my face from sun and scrutiny.

Down in the fruit-filled market here in Goshen
I remember
the giddy girls of Shechem, laughing, waving,
the men arriving and my brothers waiting,
their cunning minds prepared soon to dismember
all their hosts; I naive, they beguiling;
then my wedding, Prince Shechem, my bridegroom,
townsmen filing by
eager for brideprice circumcision, when
before my staggered eyes,
my brothers ripped their cloaks and plunged their knives
into their ribs
and there were hoarse cries, brothers' riling
laughter while the blood gushed from the screaming
men of Shechem, and in agony my husband, prince, my lover…

I was dragged back silent, stunned.
They locked me in a box dark, like a pit.
I prayed for passing Ishmaelites to buy me
and sell me into slavery, but it
was not to be; no husband wanted me.

And so the years passed, and the grievous famine
cast its curse upon us all. I wept
and waited, but our Master
turned his head away.

Until we bundled onto carts and came here,
land of plenty, land of Pharaoh, land
where long lost Joseph like a sun that rose and kept
his place in Heaven, brought us from the nightmare wind and sand
and gave us Goshen, melons, meat and beer.

If only I could reach the marble palace
Where Joseph lives with many colored robes,
I'd tell him of my brothers' fatal malice
And of the death of all my woman's hopes.
Perhaps he'd let me drink wine from his wine-urn,
And stroke my hair and we would play like twins;
He'd see the parallel: in exile he found fortune,
In exile I'd learn freedom one day wins.

LRH P. Vayigash,1.4.06

Topic(s) of this poem: bible

Form: Blank Verse

Poet's Notes about The Poem

Joseph, Dinah and her brothers, Egypt

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 5, 2006

Poem Edited: Thursday, February 2, 2017

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