In honor of Shabbat Shira, a Shabbat dedicated to song and poetry, I’d like to offer a poem I recently
uncovered that I wrote on a trip to Thailand and Cambodia in the summer of 2004. As this is the week
we read in the Torah about the Crossing of the Sea, it seemed appropriate to be thinking about freedom
and what it really means to be free in our world today. Enjoy!
By the big Buddha in Bangkok
we set the birds free.
I did it because I felt sorry for them
not for the luck.
One small bird would not fly.
He sat in the dry, brittle grass,
fidgeting. You went to see
what was wrong. I was skeptical.
I thought the birds were trained
to go back to the old woman
who sold us the cage. For you
it didn’t matter, life was upon us
and you had to take joy in it;
your smile as big as Buddha’s gold.
Later, on the bus
over to Siem Reap, with the
driver honking at peasants,
I thought of the birds
and was happy we set them
free, even if they had just returned
to the cage, even if a few small
birds would never fly away