I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
 
 
I chose this poem in honor of the more than 150 NFTY high school students who will be with us this weekend.  I found the poem on Poetry 180, an initiative (and wonderful website) of the Library of Congress, which encourages a poem a day for high school students. 

Some of what we do, we do
to make things happen,
the alarm to wake us up, the coffee to perc,
the car to start.

The rest of what we do, we do
trying to keep something from doing something,
the skin from aging, the hoe from rusting,
the truth from getting out.

With yes and no like the poles of a battery
powering our passage through the days,
we move, as we call it, forward,
wanting to be wanted,
wanting not to lose the rain forest,
wanting the water to boil,
wanting not to have cancer,
wanting to be home by dark,
wanting not to run out of gas,

as each of us wants the other
watching at the end,
as both want not to leave the other alone,
as wanting to love beyond this meat and bone,
we gaze across breakfast and pretend.

 
 
I would like to tell you
I acted out of deep faith
or that God sent me a dream
to prophesy this helpless baby
would grow up to deliver us
all out of Egypt.
But I can't.


Year after year
Shifrah and I struggled
to help mothers push newborns
out of their bodies and
into the world.
Hour after hour
we used the secret knowledge
of our sacred calling,
gentle words of encouragement,
our own powerful hands.
Oh the joy and triumph
when a wet head finally
crosses over, the transport
in every mother's eyes,
pain behind her now.


Besides, Jochebed
was my neighbor: could I
kill her son?


Hebrew cries were camel grunts
to Pharaoh's ears
so when we told him
our women delivered their babies
before we midwives could arrive
- that Hebrew women, unlike Egyptian women,
poured babies from their bodies
like wine from a jug - 
that stubborn, distrustful, arrogant man
naturally
believed us.