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Passions in Poetry

Jochebed, revised

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H. Arlequin
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since 08-23-99
Posts 211


0 posted 05-17-2000 09:50 PM       View Profile for H. Arlequin   Email H. Arlequin   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to Submit your Poem to Passions   Click to visit H. Arlequin's Home Page   View IP for H. Arlequin


These poems, parts of the Women of the Word series, deal with the perspective of Jochebed, mother of three heroes of the exodus. The voice is hers except for Miriam's after her
mother's death.

Jochebed


I Amram, husband
II Aaron, eldest son
III Miriam, eldest
IV Moses, spokesman for I Am
V Mother, laid to rest


I Amram, Husband

I am a slave, Israeli chattel stock,
predestined seed, a numbered grain of sand
from vested hills as far as eye could see,
and yet enslaved to dread the auction block.
A cruel jest, that whispered promised land
while Yakov's waiting heirs are property.

No angel visitation spoke the word
that from this womb three prophets birth,
Aaron to be high priest unto Shalom;
Miriam's freedom songs the crossing stirred;
at eighty Moses called ten plagues to earth,
and Ramses' chariots chase the chosen home.


II Aaron, eldest son


To mortals, Timelessness seems mystery,
His methodology is unlike theirs
He being faithful to His spoken word.
From birth, Aaron was wise in history
of patriarchs, the bondage of their heirs
caught fire in him, as if His voice was heard.

III Miriam, eldest


Miriam, our first gifted child,
a quick and clever youth beyond her age,
as guardian of the bulrushed ark of pitch,
wise pharaoh's daughter easily beguiled,
suggesting I as nurse, she should engage,
thus Moses would grow up with Egypt's rich.

This select vessel had her feet of clay.
"Have we not also prophesied?" she spoke
in momentary envy of the one
who led. Made leporous, she heard Moses pray
her restoration, and seven days awoke
outside the camp, as fresh as morning sun.


IV Moses, spokesman for I Am


To Egypt, Josef's brothers came and stayed
to multiply till numbered more than those
whose land it was, and pharaoh had decreed
us slaves. When growing more, a law was made
to kill Israeli newborn sons, to close
the lists on armies from an alien seed.


Though praying for a barren womb, a son
was born to die. Those labored pangs I cursed,
to feel the body torn, to scream in pain
yet know before this breast had feasts begun
its little guest at pharaoh's word was burst,
aborting dreams which could not live again.


Before the midwife came at light of day,
within a woven basket pitched with tar
I hid him in the Nile where nobles bathe.
The miracle of Moses royal stay,
a princess claimed the son pharaoh would bar,
made me wetnurse, her son and mine to save.


He was in line to sit on Egypt's throne
at forty years, but Moses saw a slave
abused, one of his clansmen was struck down.
Enraged he killed. I begged him to atone,
to flee alone to Midian, a grave
and ruined heir to Egypt's fabled crown.


Had he been king, he could have blessed his own,
instead his soul endured a wilderness
of arid rocky waste. Zipporah came,
mature, sedate, a desert blossom known
to water at the well. Denied access
till Moses fought, her life was his to claim.


She bore him sons, reflective quietude
her gift, as well, to one who could not find
direction for the soul, until the Flame
of Fire would not consume the bush. That Food,
inspired his will, spoke Purpose to his mind
of promises He'd given by faith in the Name.


Ten signs were shown to change a pharaoh's will:

a bloody Nile three days for all to drink,
a cloud of gnats that landed Egypt breathes,
a plague where only royal livestock dies,
a hailstone fury killing man and beast,
a Stygian darkness to endure by day,

a layer of frogs that caused the world to stink,
a swarm of bottle flies to bring disease,
a flood of running boils in ears and eyes,
a sky filled black as locusts spread to feast,
a plague upon the house, all firstborn pay,

Ten plagues, the cost His promise to fulfill.


Four hundred thirty years from birth to wait
the exodus, its joy of being free,
exultant liberty in dance and praise,
six hundred thousand exit Rameses' gate.
"In youthful haste, the Promised Land I'll see
to spend in gratitude my waning days.


The Great Sea road to Zion is not long,
with caravans and forts along the way.
Why then the Red Sea at out backs, the dust
of chariots too near? The winds will throng
her waters back and on dry land display
the route to home, yet swallow the unjust."


Once through the sea, the ecstasy would last
the weary miles till rest at Sinai,
where Moses saw the Lord in radiance,
as moral law in stone was etched. The past
would not stay past, misguided grumblers try
a slave's return, the calf of gold for guidance.


V Mother, laid to rest

When disbelief had come, her deepest grief
had won and I, her daughter Miriam,
have laid to rest the light that gave me birth.
This wilderness is still our home, relief
for none alive, a generation come
so far, dying as rebels doomed to earth.


At Joshua's side I thought of Jochebed,
while people gathered at the Jordan, hushed
as Moses climbed his last to Nebo's heights.
My brothers gone, our generation's dead,
yet, Yakov will recall when victory flushed,
three heroes He embraced to win their rights.

--H. Arlequin
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Women of the Word
Poems from the Goober Tree http://nathoo.wustl.edu/goober_tree.htm
© Copyright 2000 H. Arlequin - All Rights Reserved
Denise
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Member Seraphic
since 08-22-99
Posts 23002


1 posted 05-17-2000 11:16 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

You bring a new freshness and life to these long ago people!  

Denise
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