A Story Of Ruth – Shira Atik

And Ruth said to Naomi, Your people
shall be mine.
And Naomi stifled a laugh,
for who would choose to be

an Israelite? Besides, it wasn’t healthy,
a young widow traipsing after her mother-in-law.
But Ruth, who had not yet learned
the paradox of belonging,
yearned to belong. That night,

she folded herself in half
and climbed into Naomi’s suitcase,
which is how it came to pass that the old woman
carried the young one from Moab to Bethlehem –
a full sixty miles –
mistaking her breathlessness for grief.

When Naomi unzipped her suitcase, there was Ruth,
coiled like a snail, tongue hanging out,
one eye crusted over, the other
rolling in its socket like a marble in a maze.

Foolish girl, Naomi thought,
tipping Ruth out of the suitcase
and rolling her down to the river.
Somebody should have told her.


Shira Atik is a poet and a Hebrew-English translator based in Cleveland. Her poems have been published in The Ekphrastic Review, Midwest Quarterly, Passengers Journal, and Poetica Magazine. In 2018, she and sculptor Alice Kiderman co-published “Stone Words,” a book featuring nine of Shira’s poems alongside the sculptures that inspired them.

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