Ancient as my people, new
as today, Pharaoh, you are
ruler over the Narrow Place

Forever lodged in my heart

Your name means
the “Great House”, or
“King of Two Lands”—

You reign over Upper as well as Lower Egypt,
embodying humanity’s struggle

Your dual kingship is manifest
in the double crowns you wear—

One white for Upper Egypt,
and one red for Lower Egypt.

You are regarded as “the distant one”
but are near as my breath

I now understand—you are
our collective stubbornness

I cannot hate you!
I say ‘no’ everyday, and regret it—

Your repeated refusals are a gift
in my journey to liberation

I return to you for clarity
of that great and powerful No!

With each cup of wine—
symbol of joy and happiness,

i will also taste the blood
on the doorsteps of my heart.

With each bite of Matzah—
food of faith, i accept the shackles

binding me to impatience,
as I revisit my slavery,

You teach me that
freedom is slow

Liberation is not complete
until I receive the gift of gratitude

My terror is not of you Pharaoh,
who has always been within me

Yearning to let you go
as I retell your story

As I step into the Sea, reeds will part,
where gifts are received.

I pray that I learn to pass over,
the fences I erect,

and if I shed a small part of you today,
it will be enough.

— Abraham Menashe
© 2017