To Be Read At the Seder, 5778

Hi all,

Here's a poem, inspired by a friend's request, for this year's seder.

To Be Read at the First Seder, 5778

                                      Richard Chess

Tonight, again, we are leaving.
We are leaving without carrying straw,
though we breathe straw dust and see
through a veil of straw dust as we follow
the one who, before us or within us, draws
us toward her, toward him. After frogs, after
cattle sickness, after blood, we are left
with only a drop of will. We neither trust
nor challenge our leader. We are dragged
along, pulled by a mystery
without a name, and we know not
where we are going, to the edge
of a continent or to the end of the universe
as we know it. Blood has been slashed
on doorposts, the names of black angels
have been scrawled in blood on streets
of our cities. The blood of every suffering
shunts through our hearts as we crawl
through the darkness of history. Pharaoh
claims every star, ever pebble of time, every
grain of eternity as his own. Can we still believe
that the rain falls for us, for our crops, can we
believe that each new moon calls our women
to worship, or are these just lies we tell
ourselves to keep our lungs filling and emptying
with what can’t be seen but sustains us?

Tonight we are leaving. The stories of women
expose the small hands of rulers. Refugees
move through us, and we cannot tell
if we are dreaming. We have abandoned belief
in the ordered world, and the orders
that have been handed down to us
and that are enforced by overlords.
We have so little to call our own now
we are nothing more than open borders
that refugees without papers, without names
in this world, cross without hope or fear.

Let us hope that the border that keeps hate in
and love out will open tonight. Let us hope
that hate will dissolve when it is met
with love rushing across when the border patrol
is disbanded, the passport control agents
step out of their uniforms, freeing their bodies
to be bodies among bodies, each wondrously
strange and as familiar as all of God’s creations. 

But now we are just leaving. Leaving the sweet
cucumbers and onions we have known. Leaving
the roles that had been assigned to us
for so many centuries that we have forgotten
whether we were made slaves by God or man. 
For now, we are simple creatures leaving
the only room we’ve ever known as home.