by Mary Harwell Sayler
What a beautiful baby brother you have
to hide among the reeds along the river
where you’ve seen Pharaoh’s daughter
bathe, splashing water against her kind
kohl-lined eyes. You’ve noticed her before,
haven’t you, Miriam, as you’ve gone outdoors
to play? Did you watch her as you gathered
papyrus reeds to waterproof and weave
into a tiny ark, like Noah’s, or a miniature
of an Egyptian riverboat? Did you wait for
an opportunity to float by like the basket
your mother thrust among the rushes with
the infant Moses snug inside?
When your mother rushed home, empty-
armed in anguish, you stayed behind to see
what would happen along the river’s edge.
Oh, what courage it took for you to talk to
Pharaoh’s daughter! And how clever of you
to ask if she’d like a Hebrew nurse to tend
the baby taken from the Nile. With her
permission, you brought your own mother
to take care of your brother, but who would
have thought a princess would pay you to
take him home awhile? Who would expect
the timely act of you, a child, to extract an
exiled people from the mouth of the crocodile?
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. “Bravado” first appeared in a summer 2011 post on Catholic Lane and has been included in the new book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.
Outside Eden, paperback