The Book of Voices

Biblical Microfictions by Joseph Zitt

The Shulammite

(Context: Song of Songs 1:5)

It’s hot here. It’s hot here, and it’s always raining. It’s hot here, and it’s always raining, and the way people talk is strange. It’s hot here and it’s always raining, and I just forgot what the third thing was that I was complaining about. I’ll have to start the game again, hopping on my left foot this time and tossing the stones from my left hand to my right.

I wish my mother were here. I wish my mother were alive. I love my father (though he’s back at home in our city, far from here) and I love my aunt, but it’s not the same. And I don’t get to spend much time with my aunt. She’s so busy doing all the things that a queen does.

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November 23, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


(Context: Jeremiah 39:7)

This morsel is lamb, cooked in a mint yogurt, I believe, with a hint of cardamom. As usual, it is only a single bite, as small as the last segment of my thumb. Still, chewing as gently as I can, I can hold it in my mouth for a hundred heartbeats, savoring its texture, its flavor, memorizing it, until it dissolves and drifts down my throat to give my stomach a hint of its joy.

The rest of the day’s meal, as always: a loaf of bread, a bowl of lentils (still warm, this time, with sufficient salt), and a jar with enough water to last the day. The morsel was tucked under the bread, as it often is. The tiny gifts do not appear every day, but often enough that the anticipation is worthwhile, and that the experience of that day’s morsel or, if there was not one that day, the most recent, is fresh enough in memory to recall and relive throughout the day and into the night. Perhaps they are scraps retrieved from the king’s table, perhaps from a peasant’s, as one might toss a scrap to a dog. I don’t mind. I am satisfied. I am thankful. I am unashamed.

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November 17, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


(Context: Psalm 81:1)

I am song, and my world is song.
Just as we have dedicated this temple to God,
I have dedicated my life
To song, with song, for song.

This song is a song of God.
This song is a song of God’s mystery.
This song flows
From my mouth,from my throat, from my lungs.

But it is not my song.
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November 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


(Context: Proverbs 30:18)

Abishag’s eyes draw me deeply in, propel me down chasms of memory, engulf me in emotions that I had never guessed were there, suspend me in a maelstrom of feelings, of thoughts, of words. I suddenly understand the meaning of this love and the tragic mistake that I might be about to make. No, it isn’t Abishag’s love that I am experiencing, nor another’s love for me. It is the love of the woman that I am to marry tonight, that woman’s love for another man.

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November 3, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment