Passover Poem 5766

The Amphibian Haggaddah

This is the part of the seder when we close our eyes and imagine the Guangzhou Baiyun District Xinshi Xinye Plastic Factory.
We follow the cement steps to the third floor,
Climbing past the roar of giant machines on the first,
the huge exhaust fan on the second,
opening a beaten-in aluminum door to reveal a vast storeroom.
A room full of…..

“…and the frog arose and covered the land of Egypt" (Exodus 8:2)

the frog?
One big frog, Rashi says.
And the Egyptians hit that big ol’ frog
And it spewed out more frogs.
Guess it was a mamma frog.
And the more they hit, the more came out.
And I guess they couldn’t stop themselves,
Smacking that frog
until every inch of Egyptian land was wall-to-wall baby frog.

…full of frogs, freshly molded plastic green squeezy frogs with big eyes and cute froggy smiles. Wall to wall frogs, this room, all frogs except for one, one lone…

Commentators differed in their understanding of zefarde'im, "frogs." Many said it referred to a sort of fish found in Egypt, known as al-timsah in Arabic, which comes out of the river and seizes human beings.

One lone half frog-half piranha. A mutant frog, really. The first frog pulled from the mold, removed from the heat too soon.

A scary looking plastic froggy.

And this is where the story begins –
a well-meaning grandmother ordering a cute frog from the catalog
to place at her grandchildren’s seder table.
And guess which frog she gets?
Yeah, that’s right, half-piranha boy.

But this grandma is not your typical grandma.
She loves piranha frog.
She turns him into a center-piece,
sets a plate before him like Elijah.

And so on this plague we focus tonight,
the supposedly cute one,
the plague of mutation,
the plague of death leaping from the green waters of life,
the plague which makes us think twice about dipping our fingers into the wine.

-Daniel S. Brenner