Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph.
At the fringes of the fertile valley, winds slog
Into a marsh. Reeds are swarming
At its edges like mad thoughts inside a smile.
While immigrants within the valley prosper the fields,
Keeping word to themselves, you,
Who keep far off, see nothing good
Can come from stiff-necked
Resistance to your cultured gods.
You see nothing good will grow
Outside the Immigrants’ enclave.
Your close advisors add, They’ll last longer
And be stronger. They’ll capture
The rest of our land and take over
Our homes while we’re away fighting. They—
Those tribes— will grow and conquer…
They see scorched land, empty grain bins.
They think nothing good grows when not
Compelled to grow. The heart
Hardens as the mind of winters
Grows untamed, about to burst: Enslave
Them, enslave the vermin.
Fear becomes deafening; it grows
Until it’s not fear anymore.
Soon, it’ll be the way
Wheat flays wind off the field’s back,
The way acacia whips off
Seething heat with its arms,
As roots vein deeper into ground.
Soon, it’ll be the natural way
To beat unwanted elements
- And prosper.
Robert Manaster’s poems have appeared in journals including “Kerem,” “Poetica,” “European Judaism,” “Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion,” “Midstream,” and “The Literary Review.” His co-translations of poetry have also appeared in various journals, such as “Virginia Quarterly Review,” “Zoland Poetry,” and “Hayden’s Ferry Review.”