Rebekkah - Poem by Linda Hepner
The laughing girls of Nahor are singing their evening song:
“Goddess of weddings, send me slaves and gold! ”
“Ishtar, bring me the white-skinned son of Bethuel! ”
“Please send the judge’s son, who sits up at the gate
and eyes me! ”
Rhythmical and strong,
they lean into the well and heave and pull
the leather brimming buckets, pouring streams
of cool clear water into their earthen pots.
Only one girl sits silently and waits,
Her dark eyes distant. “And you, Rebekkah, who? ”
They know her answer, like to tease her. “Who? ”
“Just one more month and I’ll be gone! ” “And how? ”
“God will decide, but I’m not staying here.” “You want
to kiss a stranger’s camel breath and rotten teeth?
To serve his wooden gods? ”
“My God will guide, ” she said. “I need to leave
and live like Sarai when she smashed
her gods and followed Uncle Abram.”
“Dreamer! ” they laughed, “She thinks she’ll ride away
on a white camel with a warrior sheikh!
Your Sarai’s languishing in barren tents
and Abram has tasted sweet Egyptian dates! ”
In the distant dusk
a muffled groundshake cocked their ears.
Gathering pitchers, hems, they stood,
skin tingling, eyes wide, and turning
as if one flock, scrambled to flee in haste.
“Rebekkah, come! ” But left her sitting upright,
pitcher at her feet,
watching on her rock.
Out of the dusty, ruddy sunset came
shimmering shapes becoming camels, bearing high
a warrior chieftan riding into town.
She rose and he descended, rimed with sand,
his eyes and lips cracked, parched,
and all rehearsals lost, looked in her eyes
brimming with pools of expectation.
“Girl, let me drink out of your hands! ”
She cupped her hands and like a dog he lapped,
then raised his head. Her little smile: “Now
your camels, I will quench their thirst! ” The ten
rutting beasts lay down and she approached,
pouring long gushes into a deep trough.
The stranger asked: “Who are you, girl? ” but she
had no need in the world to ask him first
“No, who are you? ” because she knew
this dusty stranger with his saddlebags
who knelt before her was the envoy slave,
sent to bring her from her brother’s house
to distant deserts, gates and
her own fabled generations.
P. Chayei Sarah
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