The Book of Voices

Biblical Microfictions by Joseph Zitt

Elijah

(Context: 2 Kings 2:11)

In this whirlwind, time explodes. Identity returns. A sudden loss of forgetting, and I know why I am here.

I drop into history from somewhere else, as fruit drops onto random earth when time and weather tear it from the tree. I land without a name, without a past, a mission made flesh, cursed with the confusion of the newborn, without a mother’s care, blessed with just enough language to say what the Lord demands that I must say.

As I enter this whirlwind, my memory starts, recoils from the events that it now puts in order. The awakening this time: in Gilead, naked, frightened, in the corner of a field, the settlers demanding, “What is your name? Why are you here?” A name? The struggle to remember what a name might be. The shout from my lips of what I have been brought here to say: “My god is the Lord!” They hear that as my name, assume that is my name, so my name becomes what they repeat: Elijah.
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June 30, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jehoiakim

(Context: Jeremiah 34:23)

Another prophet. Another scroll. Another alarmist. A litany of complaint.

A wind from the south. A wind from the north. Trees bend. Fruit falls. Leaves fall. The trees still stand.

Egypt invades. Babylon invades. We pay fealty to whoever rules us. I change my name, if that is wanted. I change my loyalty, if that is needed. I remain here. My small palace stands.

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June 22, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Samuel

(Context: 1 Samuel 28:7)

This cannot be happening. This does not happen. I was dead, am dead, my body buried, returning to dust at Ramah, my soul at rest, dissolving into the universal soul, the loam of Sheol.

But a vibration is disturbing the surface of this substance of souls. I –the specks of this substance, once part of a separate soul, coming together, restored to an earlier order that remembers that it once formed a single being, that it once had an identity — can feel this vibration focusing into sound, this sound into a voice, the voice of a person, the voice of a woman, of a woman whose soul once knew mine, who once had run and shouted and sung with me in the circuit of prophets.
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June 16, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hezekiah

(Context: 2 Kings 18:4)

I have approached them slowly, with reverence, with regret: Nechoshet and Asherah, the healing brass serpent and the life-giving tree. Each is an object of ultimate beauty. Each must be destroyed.
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June 8, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Darius I

(Context: Ezra 6:1)

I am empty of words. All the words that a life might be allotted left me long ago, many spent in a swift torrent of decisions, decrees, and regulations, others set in stone on that cliff in Behistun, where few travel and few read the words that I once had thought immortal.

Now almost as many years of my life have passed since I had had those words inscribed as had passed before I wrote them, and I have ruled for more than four times as many years as I had by then.

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June 1, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment