Harem + Megillah – Tamar Stern

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Harem
   “…Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her” (Esther 2:15)

Alone, afraid,
facing the unknown,
I escape to memories
of months in the harem—
a circle of women
braiding each others’ hair,
sampling perfumes of rose and myrrh,
outlining our eyes
with kohl,
henna on our hands,
exchanging embroidered tunics,
brocaded slippers,
colored bowls of almonds, dates,
pomegranate seeds and pistachios,
late night whispering,
laughter,
tales of love,
belly-dancing,
sun-bathing,
earrings and bangles—
I hide in the haven of the harem,
then return to my throne,
resilient.

Megillah

The flowery script of spring
written
on a scroll of snow.

The calligraphy of rosebuds
concealed
in the dark ink of bare branch.

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