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The Old Neighborhood – A poem for Parsha Shemot

Remember the old neighborhood?
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January 4, 2024
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Moses went and returned to Jethro, his father-in-law, and he said to him, “Let me go now and return to my brothers who are in Egypt, and let me see whether they are still alive.” ~Exodus 4:18

I like to visit the old neighborhood and
since I moved around, I have a lot of them.
I’ve got an old neighborhood just a few miles away
where I still feel ownership of the palm trees and
when I see what the new resident has done
tsk tsk his efforts. That Japanese maple
was never meant to be removed.

I’ve got an old neighborhood one or two valleys over
in what some consider to be the outskirts of the region
but when I drive through, I remember all the things
I did there and can navigate the streets
like I never left.

I’ve got an old neighborhood in the middle of
the state of New York. This one really feels like
an old neighborhood as all the people who
share my mother’s last name who came before me
call it the old neighborhood and many of them
no longer move on its ground.

I’ve got an old neighborhood in the southernmost
tip of our nation, where it sticks out into the sea
like a statement. Where I was always in danger
of being eaten by an alligator. Where sometimes
it’s 90 degrees, and other times people wear
long sleeves and are angry about it.

I’ve got an old neighborhood in New Jersey
where I first breathed the air, though I don’t remember
any of it. I was barely a dot. I couldn’t put two words
together. I had no idea what a paycheck was.

I’d like to visit that first room. Where I first cried.
Where I was probably slapped. See if I made an impact.
Tell them, I had no idea any of this was coming.


Rick Lupert, a poet, songleader and graphic designer, is the author of 27 books including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion.” Find him online at www.JewishPoetry.net

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