Ruth and Naomi poem by Marge Piercy

The Book of Ruth and Naomi
Marge Piercy

When you pick up the Tanakh and read
the Book of Ruth, it is a shock
how little it resembles memory.
It's concerned with inheritance,
lands, men's names, how women
must wiggle and wobble to live.

Ruth and NaomiYet women have kept it dear
for the beloved elder who
cherished Ruth, more friend than
daughter. Daughters leave. Ruth
brought even the baby she made
with Boaz home as a gift.

Where you go, I will go too,
your people shall be my people,
I will be a Jew for you,
for what is yours I will love
as I love you, oh Naomi
my mother, my sister, my heart.

Show me a woman who does not dream
a double, heart's twin, a sister
of the mind in whose ear she can whisper,
whose hair she can braid as her life
twists its pleasure and pain and shame.
Show me a woman who does not hide
in the locket of bone that deep
eye beam of fiercely gentle love
she had once from mother, daughter,
sister; once like a warm moon
that radiance aligned the tides
of her blood into potent order.

At the season of first fruits, we recall
two travellers, co-conspirators, scavengers
making do with leftovers and mill ends,
whose friendship was stronger than fear,
stronger than hunger, who walked together,
the road of shards, hands joined.


Marge Piercy's poem "The Book of Ruth and Naomi" first appeared in Mars and Her Children (Knopf, 1992, Middlemarch, Inc.).


JPS linkThe poem appears in collection published by Jewish Publication Society of America (1994) entitled Modern Poems of the Bible: An Anthology, ed. David Curzon.


Barnes and Noble link It also appears in a new collection (Knopf, March 1999) called The Art of Blessing the Day, featuring Piercy's poems with Jewish themes.



Subscribe to the JHOM mailing list for updates.

Contact us

Tell a friend