…on the third day Esther put on her royal apparel…
Of course I’d heard of Vashti’s victory –
how she chose to rebel and die
rather than submit to his whims.
Why didn’t I, too, resist, prefer death
to lying each night like a wooden plank?
What made my uncle, with one slight nod,
encourage me to this degrading life?
But what good would martyrdom have been?
Yet now I choose to face death,
by taking action, lose eternal life:
I don my robes, perfume wrists,
and line my eyes and lips
before I dare approach him.
For how can I sit, protected,
and ignore my people’s plight?
How can I refuse to act
when their existence hangs
like an autumn leaf on an oak?
Will my three-day fast move heaven?
Will my people’s prayers be heard?
Will he extend his scepter of gold
Or will he, in anger, remove me
Before I say a word?
If he grants my request,
tomorrow, instead of sitting with the wise
at a sacred feast of savories and meat,
I shall sit with pompous pigs
at a pagan spread of pastries and wines.
And if not…
This poem comes from Ruth’s book, Leaving the Garden.