By Brandon Marlon
The acknowledged savant of his age, he is whelmed
with a surfeit of correspondence from anxious querists
the world over and routinely drafts rescripts
by moonlight after long hours of scholarship
interrupted only by prayer services; his epistles
— occasionally discursive, characteristically terse —
treat of matters ritual and synagogal,
legalistic or philosophical, uxorial and familial.
His style is Talmudic, his tone gentle;
for a sensitive soul writing from Kairouan
he softens a harsh impression of stark edicts
demanding obedience; for a student in Tudela
he details the history of the Judaic Diaspora
and portrays segregation as a preservative,
a bulwark against assimilation;
for a desperate widow in Provence
he offers words of comfort and consolation,
attempting to infuse hope in a heart forlorn.
His rulings are authoritative, if not unchallenged;
above all he prizes independent judgment,
even when the result is a decision contrary
or contradictory to the fiats of his forebears.
Always he is more stringent with himself,
more lenient with his flock, and entreating
heaven to pardon the errors of the wayward.
Never does he traffic in controversies
or weigh in on the scandals of the hour;
he is carefully attuned to the timeless
and brooks no interference from the timely.
In quiet moments he ponders the tendencies
and trends of his epoch, ephemeral as they are,
and peers into the tomorrows of his people,
discerning directions, calibrating courses.
With the glut of parchments awaiting his word,
he has little time for uncertainty or dread,
nuisances pestering the forward-looking and thoughtful.
His ambit is the present, he knows, as he plucks
quill from inkwell and diligently indites replies
in classical Hebrew or calligraphic Arabic,
his script flowing as if guided by an unseen hand.
Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria.
His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 200+ publications in 27 countries.www.brandonmarlon.com