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Thursday Night Poetry: Hillel’s Disciple

Anna Wrobel
April 6, 2017

by Anna Bat-Chai Wrobel

He washed the beggar’s feet
you know the paintings
seated low
long back yielding to
an angle of service
his head bowed enough for
the poor man to look down
both humbled
not humiliated
each in awe of the humanity
of the other

He fed the multitudes
you know the story
the fishes and the loaves
himself unhoused
loved the poor above all
it’s need that called him
and this he answered first
imagine how much love
to pull food from the air
consider how much love if
we the people helped farmers
to pull food from the earth

He ministered to the sick
for no other reason than it
being the right thing to do
wandering in Galilee he
stumbled on herbs and doctors
where the earth in abundant
and radiant medicines
declared healing to be the
reason for our existence

He overturned the table
of the money changers
strangers who’d traveled
the Roman world from
one end to the other with
currencies of many metals
stamped with heads and symbols
all this on the temple grounds
where no coin was ever to be
no priest was he -- a plain man
but a learned one who did in this
with the priests agree that trade
only in coin and money has
no place in the human being

They did not let him speak for
the next day was Passover to be
when farmers and artisans and
traders and wanderers did gather
in the temple square each year
the center of Jerusalem to hear
histories of slavery and freedom
in the years of the Roman wars
many leaders
many rebellions
protest in every corner
of the land
they would not let him speak on
the first morning of the Passover
last night’s last seder behind him
they arrested him instead
and the rest is history
what words did they fear he’d say
to thousands gathered that day
was it peace
was it love
or do I get carried away

Anna Bat-Chai Wrobel, a contributing writer to our magazine, is a recently retired history teacher and the author of Marengo Street: Selected Poems (2012, Moon Pie Press).