Arts & Culture

POEM: For the Rabbinical Judge

I might have pulled your beard, Santa Claus or Shakespearian king, your black silk coat damasked with mock flowers. You drew an anthropologist's bouquet of questions out of your hat, too warm to wear in the court and placed between … Read More

By / May 15, 2008

I might have pulled your beard, Santa Claus or Shakespearian king, your black silk coat damasked with mock flowers. You drew an anthropologist's bouquet of questions out of your hat, too warm to wear in the court and placed between us on the judge's bench like a street musician's cup. The scribe entered and exited. Extras dozed on their feet until called to witness the scene. I was surprised by my part.

The newspaper says you usually rule in favor of the husband but I want to thank you for commissioning today's freedom scroll, in which my name was spelled wrong with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet instead of the fifth. You ordered the scribe to correct the mistake, to turn the aleph of beginning into a hieroglyph signaling a decorative end to the marriage.

And thanks to the frowning gentleman who sat on one side of you wearing a Lincoln stovepipe. He folded the official paper into an origami bird, and cut it with a scissors because damage authenticates experience.

Thank you for asking my husband whether he had promised to divorce me, for asking my husband again whether he had promised to divorce me, for asking my husband until repetition cleared the air.

Thank you for allowing me to bare my head until the end of the ceremony. Thank you for explaining that a head covering on a woman is the custom among you, not us.

Thank you for advising me not to move my hands when my husband dropped the tattooed bird into my cupped palms and we flew on.