She Is Yosef

By Nurit Zarhi
(My translation)

Rahel sits in the tent
Soaking her yarn in water
Knitting a kippah to hide
The hair of Yosef, her daughter.

For if you wanted a son
And your days are nearing their end
What can you do but lie?
The will of God won’t bend.

The little one sits in the tent
In a coat of many colors
In public she’s a boy;
In private she’s another.

Now the whole world knows
Her shame has been unfurled:
Rahel gave Jacob a son
Except that he’s a girl.

The mother looks at the head of her daughter
At how she will be scarred:
Your dreams will cast you into a pit
And from there to a stranger’s yard.

The little one sits in the tent
Her mother’s voice in her ear
The one latches on to magic
The one latches on to fear.

And Rahel trembles still
The blows won’t end there, it seems:
You’ll be locked inside a jail
But you’ll get out through your dreams.

Your dreams will save you, daughter,
And cast you into a pit
Rahel’s days grow still shorter–
Her secrets told, that’s it.

The little one sits in the tent
Listening to the voice of her mother
In public she’s a boy;
In private she’s another.

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