Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Esther Puts on the Red—Murfin Verse for International Women’s Day

Queen Esther Revealing Her Identity from a stunning series of contemporary mosaics of the Purim story by Lilian Borca.

This year Purim begins as sunset this Saturday, March 11 just three days after International Women’s Day and the A Day Without a Woman strike in the USA.  Close enough for horse shoes and hand grenades.  But back in 2012 Purim, which wanders all over the late winter/spring Gregorian Calendar because it is fixed to the ancient Hebrew calendar fell smack dab on the same day.  If you have been hanging around this joint for long, you know what that meantcalendar coincidence Murfin verse.
Since then, I have generally recycled the poem in Purim posts most years.  But this year the laughing defiance of Queen Esther to her sisters seems much more at home today.  So here she’ll be.
I am not going into the full, fantastic yarn related in the Old Testament Book of Esther.  Suffice it to say that this tale of the Jews in the days of the Babylonian captivity sticks out in the Bible both because it never mentions Yahweh—it is about tribal and cultural identity, not religion—but because it is a rip-roaring saga rife with drunken royal orgies, a lascivious  king, a scheming and evil vizier, treachery galore, a clever old man, a virtual pogrom, and a defiant counter attack that leaves goyim dead by the heap.  But mostly it is about a lovely and virtuous teenager who is essentially abducted and sex trafficked all the way into the Royal bedroom to which she adapts and seems to performed her duties with exquisite and irresistible skill.
Esther is the princes/queen who will never be animated by Disney or warble the words of a cheerful and inspiring anthem.  None-the-less she triumphs and save Jewry by her wiles.  And Disney or not, Esther is the one that all of the little girls want to dress up as for the rollicking, joyous festival of Purim.
You can look it all up.

Anyway, let Esther speak again to her sisters across time and space. 

Purim/International Women’s Day
14th day of Adar 5772/March 8, 2012

Queen Esther tossed her head,
            gleaming black hair
            tumbling to those lovely shoulders
            that had enticed a lecher King.
                        She laughed.

Her people, the Women of another age,
            leaned toward her
            waiting her word.

She cast her blazing eyes upon them,
            laughed again
            and spoke at last.

“So many Hamans.  Where shall we begin?”

—Patrick Murfin

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