Ruth & Naomi

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Ruth. What a strange and interesting journey of family. I wrote this poem after having lived in two different “foreign” (to me) countries in less than one year. I felt after that experience that I was beginning to get a glimpse of understanding of Ruth’s experience.

RUTH & NAOMI

Leaning back in your favorite chair,
in the home you also inherited,
in this city of bread you have known
most of your life,
you ask me

if in moving from Moab,
a widowed childless child,
I chose bitterness over loneliness
for the mere promise of barley harvest?
Was it so simple, so easy for me,
to cling to my foreign God?

There must be more than this, you think.
I see the way your eyes narrow,
your head tips slightly to the left,
how you consider me, sip your tea,
and stroke your chin
in one fluid motion.

I tell you now:
It cost me.
To embrace a stranger for life
then lose him to death, oh yes,
it cost me my world.

Destiny is not so easy.
Entering Bethlehem,
we were discussed among the townsfolk.
You returned to your people to start over
with your son’s widow, of all things.
I was something new to them and to me:
Foreign.

I listened with care to conversations, and saw
sharp furrows around dark eyes
eventually give way to laugh lines,
softening in my mind
and in truth.

Your cup is empty,
your head nods,
your interest spent.
And I am home now.

No, not so easy,
but I knew that hope of family
in the abundance of Boaz.
Somehow I glimpsed the royal line,
the promise of eternal redemption,
in a barley harvest.

~March 1998

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