Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Plaint of Rachel

To listen to an audio recital of the poem, click here


   A plaint is an utterance of grief or sorrow, a lamentation. A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure or resentment. The two words come from the same root and are remarkably similar, yet also subtly different, and it is very sad that the former has virtually disappeared from the English language, save only its misuse in the word plaintiff, which should really be a complaintiff. This note, on the other hand, is both a plaint and a complaint.

"Jacob and Rachel" by Gustav Heinrich Nacke, 1786-1835

Is it really so remarkable that a man came to a well
and met a woman who he found attractive?
I came to the same well.
I found a man attractive.
Yet my coming does not even earn a paragraph.

Is it really so extraordinary that a man waited
seven years to obtain his love,
and slaved, and counted every minute,
only to be cheated at the last?
I also waited seven years, and slaved,
and counted every minute.
I also was cheated at the last.
Yet my disappointment does not even merit a sentence.

Is it really so historic that a man continued waiting,
adding another seven years,
fleeing at the last?
Did I stop waiting?
Did my feet not also burn the dust in flight?
Yet my determination is not even worth a mention.

Your story will be told, my husband, my patriarch.
Your story will require whole chapters.
Yet I who shared your longing, your dream, your bed,
my name would not even be remembered
if I had had the same patience
for another man.


"The Plaint of Rachel" is published in "Welcome To My World, Selected Poems 1973-2013", The Argaman Press. Click here to purchase the book.

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