Indeed, the theme of nourishment is peppered throughout this week's reading. First we witness Joseph symbolically dreaming of sheaves of wheat. What's more, who joins Joseph in the Egyptian prison? None other than the cup-bearer and the baker to Pharoah. These two figures are archetypal 'providers', feeding and watering the very King.
And yet, even though Joseph is destined to provide nourishment to the masses and to bring salvation to his entire family, in this week's reading we find him far from the fulfillment of his calling. The parsha closes with Joseph stranded helpless in an Egyptian dungeon. Joseph here is the epitome of unrealized potential. All of his vast talents, his promise, his gifts, have thus far only garnered envy, resentment, and alienation. What must it have felt like for him to be marooned in that dungeon when he knew that he was destined for so much more?
The poem below playfullly likens Joseph stranded in the dungeon to a fork stranded in a bowl of soup – a fork, utterly unable to gather and dispense the very nourishment within which it seeps.
This week we are invited to ponder the places in our own lives where we feel like a fork in broth. Where are we being stymied from giving over the goods we sense are ours and ours alone to give? How could we better feed others? How can we become fitter vessels for nourishing eachothers?
Or better yet, how do we deal with the waiting periods,
with the times we feel cast into pits and prisons? How can our proverbial low points also be seen as necessary steps in our process of the fulfillment of our dreams?
Forkinbroth - A Prison Cell Soliloquy
I am a fork of sorts
an otherwise useful tool
suddenly sold for a pair of shoes
and thrust into an endless
pool of soup
steaming, livid, lost in broth
unable to clench this liquid
with my sharp-
tipped fingers and stymied teeth
no lip, no dip to sip by,
no curvacious bend
to cup the stuff
to lift to lips,
to feed the famished
…to magnanimously GIVE
All this iron - useless but for irony
a squandering of talent
a parody & mockery of hands to make,
of tongues to taste,
the senselessness of tables standing,
and napkins napping.
The utter futility of flames
finding selves stoked so strenuously
for the sake of stewing this bowl
that will eventually go cold.
And no to mention the wasted
toil of well-tilled soil
that set about to sprout fresh greens,
to bud potatoes, to bear forth beans
all for the sake of nourishing
one day some mouth
from some steam-
of liquid life
that I and I alone
am destined to provide
like a flat note after the entire
orchestra of creation
a humility after harmony
a travesty of talent & promise
- a magnitidinous squandering
and I sit here and imagine
waking one morning
after seeping so long in this cauldron
and finding myself suddenly morphed
into long-destined shape
and state of
to be a spoon - smooth and rounded, arched and holding
cupping, dipping long, fulfilling calling
How all my destiny there sits
- to be a spoon -
to grasp and hold
To pass the spoon to all who swoon from hunger
to all the aching famished families of man
that long await the steady hand
that sits enslaved – so sensely -
in this dungeon.
Ah, but turn me into spoon
to serve this stew
and I am sure to burn
a tongue or two.
And let me loose
to share this filmy food
and all my dreams
will follow suit.