The Book of Voices

Biblical Microfictions by Joseph Zitt

Moses

(Context: Exodus 3:4)

I am standing in the desert.

I am standing in the desert,
and a bush is burning before me.

A bush is burning,
and it is not consumed.

It is not consumed,
as smoke is rising from it.

It is not consumed,
as a voice is rising from it.

A voice is rising from it,
and it is calling out my name.

It is calling “MOSES”.

It is calling “Moses”
and I am afraid.

But then, more gently,
it is calling my other name.

It is calling my other name
that no one else knows.

It is calling my other name
that my mother gave me
before she gave me up,

That my mother gave me,
before the princess found me,

before the princess found me,
and named me “Moses”,

“Moses,”
a name from the oppressors,

“Moses,”
a name that everyone would know,

“Moses,”
a name that I knew was not my own.

But when I had asked my mother
what name she had given me,

what name she had meant me to bear,
she said, “You are Moses now,
and you must live with kings

You are Moses now,
and you will be a leader.

You are Moses now,
because you have to be

You have to be true
You have to be strong
You have to be strong for us.”

And the bush is calling me,
And the bush is calling me “Moses”,
And the bush is calling me by my secret name,
the secret name that I never knew

But when I hear the bush say it,
When I hear the bush sing it,
when I hear the bush whisper it,
I know the name is mine.

And as I suddenly know my name,
I suddenly know my destiny,
I know my future,
of struggle,
of struggle, and plagues,
of struggle, and plagues, and faith,
of struggle, and plagues, of faith,
and of freedom.

And I will go down, now,
I will go down to Egypt’s land
I will tell Pharoah
to let my people go.

But first,
But first I will go home
I will go home to my mother,
back to my mother’s arms,

And she will hold me,
As she held me before she let me go,
As she held me when I was a child,

And I will whisper to her,
I will whisper to her
that I now know who I am,
I will whisper to her my true, my secret name,

And she will tell me
“You now know who you are,
You now can be a man,
can stand up to kings,
You now can lead

And people will know of what you will do,
and people will sing of Moses

And maybe, at the end of days,
when all good things are known,
we all will gather back again,
will gather by the river
that leads us to heaven,
where we will sing of our lives,
of our past, of our history,

and we will sing of Moses,
and then in a loving whisper,
we will all sing our true names.”

(Next: The Wife of Cain)

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February 8, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. This piece was written about a year ago, before the other material that has been posted here. It set me on the train of thought that resulted in this project.

    My mother, who conducts a community orchestra, asked for a piece for orchestra and speaker related to Passover, and suggested that I write something about Moses, possibly concerning the burning bush. I wondered about this for a while, and then, as I thought about a type of repetition that might work in the text, the first few lines popped into my head. I sat down and wrote out the whole thing, almost as quickly as I could type.

    I changed only a few words in the couple of days after that, then decided to consider the text complete and fixed for the purpose of the orchestral work, so that I wouldn’t second-guess it in writing the score.

    I’m currently re-orchestrating it for another orchestra that will, I hope, be performing it on the west coast in the spring. While I focus on that, I’m keeping up the apparent momentum on this project by dropping this text that I decided, some time after the project started, would be part of the book after all.

    Comment by bookofvoices | February 8, 2008 | Reply


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