Joseph’s Brothers + Giving Names To All Things – Steven Sher

Joseph’s Brothers

“The rope has followed
the bucket into the well.”
—from Sefer Ha-Aggadah

He fell upon their necks
until they kissed and wept
and reconciled—rope following
the bucket down the well:
twelve strands of truth,
stretched taut, now strong,
together wound as one.

Giving Names To All Things

Here the wet sweet grass and nip of autumn in the air
transport your deepest thoughts, release the glory of the morning
along the path composed of precious stones to Heaven’s throne.

Here the smell of wood smoke through the city
evokes a greater Temple to be built;
the moaning of the faucets, our blowing of the shofar.

And here the fronts of pots upon the backs of pans
with their long drying handles rising in the air
stay bent like ten gray men in prayer.

Steven Sher is a native New Yorker and author of 14 books including, most recently, “The House of Washing Hands” (Pecan Grove Press, 2014) and “Grazing on Stars: Selected Poems” (Presa Press, 2012). He has taught writing at many universities (and workshops) for more than 35 years. He and his wife now live in Jerusalem. More information can be found at

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