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Boaz - A Kindly Bent
by James Vasquez
Now if in haste I take each step,
You'll understand just why,
As quickly I relate my tale,
Before I pass you by.
A task I have awaiting me,
That nothing shall prevent,
Till I each detail have arranged,
And all my efforts lent.
And if so strange it seems to you,
A man like me should haste,
Of corpulent appearance and,
A pound or two to waste,
And stranger yet that one my age,
Diminished hair and all,
Should be in such a rush that he,
Take caution lest he fall,
You'll understand much more, my friend,
And justify my way,
When finally I explain just why,
This manner I display.
A man of standing I have been,
For many years, they say,
Who deals in honor with all men,
As testified this day.
My barley fields a golden hue,
Cast far as eye can see,
And wheat is bowing in the wind,
As laden as can be.
My workers' daily wage is paid,
For each receives his share,
And those within the house are safe,
Each maiden-servant fair.
And I myself oft take my place,
When night has called to rest,
'Mongst those who on the threshing floor,
With sleep are finally blest.
And wherein do I lack? you ask,
The answer true and plain:
I have no helpmate by my side,
With whom each night I've lain.
Has time, then, passed me by, is there,
No woman now for me?
Are prayers no longer heard above,
And useless every plea?
Are workers those I'll ever own,
As sons and daughters, too,
Should I in resignation now,
This dream no more pursue?
These thoughts most naturally I've kept,
Quite to myself, subdued,
For deep within I was assured,
That God somehow reviewed,
Each act of kindness one might show,
Alike to rich and poor,
And if midst undue trials one,
Did patiently endure.
Well, on a morning bright one day,
While passing through my field,
A lady quite unknown I saw,
Who instantly appealed,
Her form was fair as were her hands,
So resolute and deft,
Behind the harvesters she walked,
To glean what there was left.
And asking, I then learned her name,
'Twas Ruth and daughter of,
Naomi who was kin of mine,
To whom she showed much love.
For Naomi had lost three men,
Two sons and then her spouse,
And one was husband of fair Ruth,
With whom she shared her house.
And these things in a foreign land,
Took place where they sojourned,
As mother and her daughter now,
They had of late returned.
And I was quite informed of all,
That Ruth had done for her,
And with her praises sung by all,
I fully did concur.
And thus I ventured to approach,
This lass of foreign birth,
To offer some assuring word,
To her of proven worth.
"Remain within these fields," I said,
"And with my maidens stay,
For ample gleanings you will find,
And nothing lack each day.
"And of the men I will require,
Your safety they assure,
And tempted they their yen must quell,
Their longing must endure."
"And why," she asked, "is favor shown,
Though I am not a Jew,
And what has drawn your eye to me,
That honor thus is due?"
Now I was not about to speak,
Of what I lacked in life,
That God one day might hear my plea,
And grant to me a wife.
No, better that I honor her,
Respecting her great need,
Renouncing all my heart's desire,
And her pure wishes heed.
Should Naomi have been informed,
Just what to me Ruth meant?
Or was it best to wait and see,
Just how the matter went?
But I had long this maxim learned,
And to its virtue swore,
When God some trial should ordain,
I'd trust him even more.
I blessed her by the Lord and then,
Her shawl I filled with grain,
We had a meal together which,
She seemed not to disdain.
Now sometime later I awoke,
When half the night was gone,
The threshing floor was dark throughout,
Outside the moon was wan.
And there a woman at my feet,
Was lying in repose,
Twas Ruth the Moabitess who,
Was dressed in all her clothes.
And what she said to me once more,
My long held hopes renewed,
Though barely in a whisper there,
Her form so dimly viewed.
She asked that I my garment spread,
That she beneath its fold,
Might some protection find against,
The dampness and the cold.
For I, she said, was kinsman with,
Redeemer rights as well,
And thus she came to me that night,
This hopeful news to tell.
I knew, of course, the meaning of,
The words she spoke to me,
There was a way to gain her hand,
If I might then agree.
Well, hardly was there need that I,
Be asked a second time,
I'd not as yet resigned my dream,
Though somewhat past my prime.
And with all haste when morn arrived,
Within the town's main gate,
I gathered several elders to,
Bear witness to my fate.
And then addressing him who was,
A man of closer kin,
I told the tale of Ruth in full,
Beguiling not therein.
And when he learned that with the land,
A woman would accrue,
His interest waned exceedingly,
And his concern withdrew.
(I will confess how pleased I was,
That he had not as yet,
By chance among his friends in town,
This lovely woman met.)
And here I leave you by the way,
As this I now confide,
A feast I celebrate tonight,
To honor my sweet bride,
And such a feast they'll never know,
In these parts yet again,
For I am surely 'mongst them all,
The happiest of men.
For God looks not on outward form,
And years mean naught to him,
With shortened steps, and heavier,
And eyes grown somewhat dim.
But rather deep within he peers,
To see what's in the heart,
What good, what truth, what kindly bent,
That sets him there apart.
from the November 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine