poem "The Yoke" by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

Most of the poems in my current unpublished poetry manuscript, "The Rhythm of Forgiveness," have been published separately, in literary magazines or other types of periodicals. I've been wanting to start posting these poems here.

In this Biblical season, "The Yoke" seems a good place to start.

This poem appeared in the wonderful magazine Lilith, in its spring 1999 issue. http://lilith.org/current-issues/page/62/ The same issue featured a second poem by me, to come in a later blog post.

Along with featuring a poem or two, Lilith covers a wide range of topics. Here's how it describes itself: "Independent, Jewish & frankly feminist since 1976, Lilith magazine charts Jewish women's lives with exuberance, rigor, affection, subversion and style." What's not to like? (I'm tempted to adopt those last five qualities as my personal writer's mission.) 

"The Yoke" also appeared in the July 1996 issue of the monthly newspaper Psychic Reader, which was published for many years by the Berkeley Psychic Institute, where I first trained as a clairvoyant reader.






The Yoke







Somebody’s yoke around my neck—


how can I think about God now


and what a kvetch he became in Genesis?


He walked there calling for Adam.


Then the verses fell down like a ladder on the dirt


smashing all that had been planted.


Adam stopped to be yelled at


but the actual Adam was off somewhere else


dancing and fornicating with Eve.


About all the pain and suffering that followed—


was it worth the neat rows of vegetables,


each with a picture-name?


I’m more interested in the snake in the dust


and the shimmering pyramids.


The goddess that came before them


shaking her stiff serpent at the tree.


I’m as tired of the One Dad God as he was with his trying children.


Let the cypresses be trees in my hungry city,


let the dusty roads be my littered streets.


God, this agreement to plow and to plead—


it’s enough already, don’t you think?


And this yoke—take it.


Go on without me


rearranging yourself, green into red


into blue. I feel better already.


I forgive you too.

copyright 1996 Lisa Bernstein (aka Lisa B)


Leave a comment