Miriam… a poem


The last time I spoke with Eli, he shared with me the poem below, which he had written and which had just been published.  I was (and still am) so proud of his engaged, reflective mind and eager, active spirit.  The biblical texts referenced are Exodus 15 and Numbers 12.  [If you can expand the width of your display, you’ll see the line breaks as Eli intended them.]


In preparation for Passover Seder
a woman places a full cup
of water
for Miriam, sister of
beside the cup of Elijah’s wine.
In her heart, they are still holy.

When her parents spoke of Miriam, prophetess
snow-white with sore for questioning God,
struck with leprosy for saying “Has not the Lord also spoken to me?”
the woman tried not to wonder if her point
wasn’t that she heard God calling clearly in the desert and felt the spring
bubbling up inside her.

She tries not to wonder if Miriam was eager, rather than blasphemous

as when the army of the pharaoh was drowned in the Red Sea
perhaps Miriam felt the oceans turning inside her and said
“Throw me the horse and the rider
and let God do his work.”

perhaps she understood, as only women can
what a terrible thing it is to mistake
a fountain of life
for a body.

Instead of a blessing for Elijah, the woman prays, Meribah
may you find peace in the desert, a cup of water to your people
emptying yourself for them over and over but never

Eli M. Roe