When God Yelled at Me

When God yelled at me
shaking his fist from the bima
up to the women’s gallery,
where I leaned forward,
I laughed—half-falling
over the railing
that marked sacred
from profane, man from woman,
Chagall’s floating city

from our earthbound
snotty kids, screaming babies,
Nana Mazal weeping, girls giggling,
ladies gossiping—
when God glared at me,
my laughter coiled
like a snake,
hurtled through the air
and bit him

on the tongue.
The women gasped,
pulled me back. I tore away:
had to see. His tongue was swelling,
like a bee sting—vast, filling
the shul. The men bobbed
and swayed, muttered prayers—
didn’t see his tongue
mushrooming—
bread dough left too long,
rising and foaming.

The women watched
the men sink and drown
in a sea of dough.
God’s tongue billowed
towards us, but Nana Mazal took
her sewing scissors
and cut. We watched it sag,
deflate, disappear
with a burp.

The men rose,
still praying and mumbling.
They didn’t look back at us.
And with a jerk
of his shoulders,
God left the room—
without a word.
His mother should have
taught him better.

From JBooks.com where you can find two more of my poems.

Ruth Knafo Setton, a first-generation American who was born in Safi, Morocco, brings a new voice to Jewish-American poetry. Until recently, most Jewish-American poetry and literature has focused on an Ashkenazi experience. Knafo Setton’s work provides a glimpse into the world of Mizrahi Jews, the experiences of Jewish women of Arab lands, and a secular Jewish identity.