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Poem: "The Work of Your Hands" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Work of Your Hands"
This poem came out of the April 18, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from LJ user Rix_scaedu. It also fills the "bedtime rituals" square in my 4-3-17 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman. It belongs to the series Clay of Life.


"The Work of Your Hands"


Menachem felt bad
about Yossele's feet,
or rather, his lack of feet.

To be sure, Yossele had
as fine a pair of iron feet as
the blacksmith could make,
strapped onto the ends of
his legs, but that was not
the same as feet of living clay.

Though Menachem was
a blacksmith and not a potter --
and certainly not a rabbi or a scholar! --
still he began to study the lore about
golems and their construction.

He learned about the three types of clay
and their features before and after firing.

He learned that any kind of clay
could be enchanted, although
its nature affected the ease and
durability of the casting; but
that ordinary earth could not
be brought to life the same way.

He learned that the clay
was not the means of magic
but only a medium for it.

What mattered was not
the work of his hands.

What mattered was
the wisdom of the man
who was making the magic
and his skill in channeling
the divine energy into a vessel.

"I do not think I can make you feet,"
Menachem said to Yossele.

The golem shrugged and pointed
to the fine iron feet that he wore.

"I know, but it's not the same,"
Menachem said sadly. "I wish
that I could make you real feet."

Yossele just hugged him
and climbed into the wagon,
for it was nearly Shabbat
and time for him to rest.

Menachem was as gentle
as ever in reaching between
his lips to remove the shem
so that Yossele could sleep.

"O L-rd, you are our Father; and
we are clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hands,"
Menachem said, looking at the sky.
"Would that I had such power, not for
my own sake, but to help my friend."

Then he began his own preparations
for the evening, but silently he resolved
that after the Shabbat had passed,

he would go and study some more.

* * *

Notes:

"But as for you, O LORD, you are our Father; and we are clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hands."
-- The Bible, International Standard Version, Isaiah 64:8

The creation of man from clay appears throughout much of world mythology. The golem was created from clay, much like Adam and Eve. Science likewise suggests that life may have emerged from clay.

Read about the basic types of clay (porcelain/white, stoneware/gray, and earthenware/red) and how they behave.

Jewish magic and the attitudes about it relate to various interpretations of the golem myth. The power of language is a primary aspect of Kabbalah.

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