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Poem: "The Unmarked Case" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Unmarked Case"

This poem was written outside the Poetry Fishbowl, and it fills the "nonviolent powers" square in my card for Wordsmith Bingo.  It has been sponsored by ankewehner.  It belongs to the series Fledgling Grace.


The Unmarked Case


In a world filled with
feathered and leathern wings,
where markings may indicate
ancestry, religion, gender,
state of grace, or any other affinity --

where cherubim and seraphim
move among the masses
clad in magnificent rainbow plumage --

there yet remains one unmarked case.

The tzadikim nistarim
are the hidden holy ones,
thirty-six righteous people
for whose sake
the world is not destroyed.

They do not wear a unified plumage;
they are sparrows and doves,
glossy ibis and pallid swifts,
and other kinds as well.

They are unknown even to themselves,
going about their business
of saving the world in quiet ways.

Anyone might meet them
and never realize it --
a stranger's hand reaching out
to snatch someone from in front of a bus
or buy a loaf of bread for a hungry mother.

In times of crisis,
one may step forward
and by action become known,
only to slip away again
the moment the emergency is over,
for their mystical power
is a subtle, numinous thing.

To glimpse one is to see
the spark of a meteor in a dark sky.

* * *

Notes:

The tzadikim nistarim  appear in Jewish tradition, and also as an entertainment trope.  Their power lies not just in their faith and goodness, but also in their humility and secrecy.  They are the exception that proves the rule, in a world where most people's affinity is now worn for all to see.

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Comments
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: November 25th, 2013 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)
"To glimpse one is to see
the spark of a meteor in a dark sky."

That is a wonderful image. Such a brush with holiness may only last an instant, but if you let it, it can change you forever.

I've always loved the legend of the Tzadikim Nistarim. I was a little unclear on it at first, though, in true 4 year old fashion. Asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, that was my answer.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 25th, 2013 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> "To glimpse one is to see
the spark of a meteor in a dark sky."


That is a wonderful image. Such a brush with holiness may only last an instant, but if you let it, it can change you forever. <<

I'm glad it worked for you so well! That's how I feel about certain numinous experiences. They go by fast, but they change everything.

>> I've always loved the legend of the Tzadikim Nistarim. <<

Me too.

>> I was a little unclear on it at first, though, in true 4 year old fashion. Asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, that was my answer. <<

I have two thoughts on this:

1) It's a great aspiration.

2) Given the technical parameters of the class, if the members can't know who they are ... then nobody else can know they're not one. So your wish, like Schrodinger's cat, may or may not have come true. If you were a tzadik, what if anything would you be doing differently? It's like a Jewish koan.
2 comments or Leave a comment