Miriam, sister of Moses

The Object Of Conversation
from Genesis 15 and Numbers 12
by Mary Harwell Sayler

They’re talking about you, Miriam. They’re
talking about how you should have married and
had a family of your own instead of hovering
over the one drawn from the water, long ago.

They’re talking about you as though you’re
absent — as though no female prophet, past or
present, could count herself as blessed as any
man who speaks, face to face, with God.

Outside the camp of jealousy in the weak site
of leprosy, can you forgive your brother Moses
for having to intercede for you and pray when
you would prefer it to be the other way around?
Neither forgiveness nor forgetfulness will come
by your welcoming death, so save your breath!

And just so you’ll know, this talk goes on and
on in Bible circles where we discuss how rivalry
erupted, corrupting your pores with your longing
to speak for God — to stand alone and yet belong
among the prophetically great leaders of the world.
So we interpret you as we see fit: appraising right,
assessing wrong, but even now we sing your song.


©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Originally published in 2007 issue of Bridges, the poem later appears in Mary’s book of Bible-based poetry, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.



2 thoughts on “Miriam, sister of Moses

Add yours

  1. Hi Mary!
    Did you know there is a rich body of midrash (rabbinic analysis, often creative and literary) about Miriam and her exalted place among the matriarchs and prophets/prophetesses? And much is said about why she got “leprosy” (actually a biblical disease that seems to have no modern counterpart), and was thus required to live apart until she healed.
    Nice poem, touching on a topic long of interest in Jewish circles. But perhaps you already knew that!
    — all the best… Steve Berer

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