Prickly Pear

“There’s no miraculous escape, Shechem’s synonymous with rape”...
November 30, 2023
Shechem seizes Dinah (Public domain)

“There’s no miraculous escape,
Shechem’s synonymous with rape,”
they told their father, in his camp
where he sat sweating, hands cold, damp,
worried for his daughter Dinah….
days since last time he had seen her.
Left home, each leg in a stocking
sleek and black, while still more shocking
her sensuous curves, which unsubdued
proclaimed their shapely magnitude.
The wrap she wore was made of mink,
a Pepto-Bismol shade of pink;
conspicuous as Tower Eiffel
she wished to be, or Christmas trifle.

She’d said she only wished to stop
some minutes there, perhaps to shop
for some small trinkets as a gift
for Leah, since it might uplift
her mother’s spirits, but she then felt down
once living in that alien town,
signs not in Hebrew, Aramaic.

Her old town now seemed as Passaic
might seem to some Manhattanite
who likes to drink and dance all night,
and check the restaurants and bars,
then count his sheep in bed, or stars.

“Sure, find your mother something nice,”
he’d told her.  “Back in a trice!”
She’d said, and then put on a skirt
both short and tight, but not a word
came from his mouth, though he was scared…
for just about one child he cared,
(as he cared only for one wife)
young Joseph, (Benjamin was not
yet born) the son whom he had shared
with Rachel, joined as in a knot,
lady of her loving laird.

That’s how it started, all the strife
between the Jews and Arabs––Dinah,
being now Shechem’s new wife
could not prevent it. He was keener
on having a fling, Nablus affair
with any girl he found erotic,
anti-Israel prickly pear
enjoying what he found exotic.

Maybe she heard wedding bells,
but to party it takes two;
intermarriage rarely sells
and succeeds for very few.
Brothers knew this, she did not….
Jacob sat upon a fence.
If your daughter’s really hot
and you have some common sense
you will drive her to the store,
not let her walk there all alone.
“Should our sister be a whore?”
brothers asked him with a moan.

Was he bothered by the sabers
used to circumcise by neighbors
who after they had circumcised
themselves by brothers were “surprised”?
Didn’t he fear that all their pillage
wouldn’t harm them all in their small village,
since in real numbers they were few?
To understand him here’s a clue:
the next thing was that he removed
all the gods his sons had taken
from Shechem, which clearly proved
all the parties were mistaken:
father, since he sat on fences,
brothers, since they took strange gods
once they’d broken through defenses.

Peas unlike can’t share same pods,
and though, of course, boys will be boys,
apportioning for crimes the blame,
it’s hard to use mere equipoise
when sisters have been put to shame.

Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored “Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel.” He can be reached at gershonhepner@gmail.com.

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