Lamentations for the New Millennia

Found In: Preserving Creation, Tisha b'Av & Minor Fast Days

By Ann Metlay | Poem

Written for Tisha B'Av 2002 / 5762

Alas
G-d’s temple,
Once a bejeweled orb
Of sparkling greens and blues
Now lies in ruins at our feet,
Razed by the wrath of Hashem,
Consumed without pity.

Bitter toxins seep into our rivers,
Noxious gases turn rain to poisons.
Forests die. Fish die.
All that was beautiful has turned to dust.
Hashem’s displeasure groans in thunder.

Clouds blackened by smoke
From rainforest conflagration,
Thickened by dust from mushroom clouds,
Hide Hashem’s face from us,
Cloak us in the darkness of our iniquities.

Devoured fruits of deadly knowledge,
Destruction of Your holy temple, Earth,
How will You judge these transgressions?
We tremble with fear for Your verdict.
Will You throw us from Your garden,
As You once did in Eden?

Even the jackal offers her breast
And suckles her young.
But we have turned cruel,
Like ostriches in the desert.
Little children beg for bread
And none gives them a morsel.

From above Hashem sent a fire
Down my bones.
Hashem spread a net for my feet,
Hurled me backwards
And left me forlorn,
In constant misery.

Gold, our precious gold is dulled.
Debased, the finest gold,
Sacred gems are spilled
At every street corner.
Precious children of Hashem,
Once as cherished as gold
Are now valued like earthen pots.

Hashem has rejected His altar,
Disdained Her sanctuary.
He has stripped His temple like a garden.
She has handed Her creation to our foes.
The walls of His citadel laugh at our folly.

I return to the forests
Of my youth where towering redwoods
Once swept fog from cloudless blue skies.
And what do I find? The chortle of mocking crows
Scratch in the footprints of giants.

Jackals scorn our blunders.
Vultures wheel overhead
Ready to feed on our destruction.
Cockroaches lurk in darkened corners.
Hashem’s messengers flock, sooty winged,
With cackles of mockery, for we have
Destroyed all that was lovely on the earth.

Know that my eyes have drowned in tears.
My heart is in tumult.
My being melts away into the void,
Through the ruin of my people,
As babes and children languish
In the squares of the city.

Let us sit alone and be patient.
When Hashem has laid out
Our transgressions before us
Let us put our mouth to the dust.
There may yet be hope.
Let us offer our cheek to the smiter.
Let us be shrouded in mockery.

Mitzrayim was visited by plagues
As Hashem worked to free us from bondage.
Now we clamor to enslave others
With plagues far worse than any could envision.
We are the slaveholder, the slave
In modern-day Mitzrayim.

Now is the time to search
And examine our ways.
Let us lift up our hearts with our hands
To Hashem in heaven.
We have transgressed and rebelled.
Let us pray to Hashem for forgiveness.

Our steps were checked.
We could not walk with long strides.
Our doom is near.
Our days are done.
Alas, our doom has come.

Prostrate in the streets lie
Both young and old,
Maidens and youth are fallen by our sword,
By weapons impregnated with horror,
Slain on Your day of wrath, Hashem,
We slaughter without pity.

Quiet in the jungle
Where gorillas once gamboled,
In forests where birds once trilled,
In the oceans where whales’
Descants once rolled through waves.
Silence on Hashem’s holy altar.

Rain once fell on fertile ground.
Now, dust clouds, thick as locusts,
Swirl, blow nutrients into fogs of famine.
Earth cries, too tired, too crowded
To feed her hungry family.

See, Hashem is in the right,
For we have disobeyed Her commandments,
We have overtaxed His land.
We have polluted Her rivers.
Behold our agony, as all our wrongdoing
comes before our judge, Hashem.

Today we are slaves
To our greed, our avarice, our selfish needs.
Tomorrow, we pray, help us
To restore our covenant with you, Hashem.
Return to us the rainbow.

Undo our selfish acts, we pray.
Help us to heal the ground we have torn apart,
The air we have despoiled,
The water we have poisoned.
Help us to restore Your holy temple.

Valleys once laden with lilies,
Dappled with daisies,
Undulating hills of green,
Now lie disemboweled,
Rich veins extracted, purged of their heart,
They lie in heaps of wretchedness.

We weep. We decry this separation
From You and Your holy temple.
Our eyes flow with tears. Far from us
Is the comfort of Schehina who might revive
Our spirits. Our children are forlorn.
Our avarice has prevailed.

Existence, itself, is threatened
By our behavior, by our self-serving
Self-centered grab for power.
Individual greed has destroyed our earth.
We must work to reunite, work together
To mend all that lies in ruin at our feet.

You, Hashem, only You can restore
Us to Your holy temple.
Only You can teach us to mend our ways,
Can lead us away from destruction,
Take us down the trail of repair for your Universe.

Zealously we cry out to You, Hashem.
We pray that You listen to our supplications
For forgiveness; that You see our eyes
Are rimmed in tears; that You feel the sickness in our hearts.
Take us back, we pray. Renew our days of old.