My son who’s in first grade had a nightmare.
“We were a pod of dolphins and they came and captured us,”
he said while eating pancakes. Then, “Was Moses real?
A stick can’t turn into a snake. I think it’s a myth.”
It sounded like “miff,” heavy of lips and heavy
of tongue. So I told him, “The stick is not what matters.
The stick is the distraction. The decoy. It’s the words
that matter. The words can split the sea. The words can
bring forth water from a rock.” I thought about the Midrash
where Abram tries to prove that idols don’t have power.
I decided that I am like the woman who brings an offering
for the idols, and my poems are like the idol
who took a stick in hand and toppled all the other idols,
and the stick is meant to distract the fishermen in the dream
when they cast their nets, slimy, disturbing the water
yet impossible to detect, and whether we believe a stick
can turn into a snake determines whether the dolphins
get caught or escape, porpoising into the deep indigo sea.
About the Author
Maya Bernstein’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Allium, By the Seawall, the Cider Press Review, Ghost City Review, Lilith Magazine, Tablet Magazine, and elsewhere. She is on faculty at Georgetown University and Yeshivat Maharat, and is pursuing an MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Her first collection is There Is No Place Without You (Ben Yehuda Press, 2022). Maya was selected as a Scholar for Yetzirah's inaugural poetry conference in June, 2023.