The Book of Voices

Biblical Microfictions by Joseph Zitt


(Context: Genesis 11:31)

It has been too long since we have seen each other, too long since we have talked. But now, after so long, we are alone together. The house is quiet now. My son and what remains of my family have gone. They are finishing the journey that I began so many years ago.

Yes, we must talk again now, face to face. Here: if I hammer this thin brass nail down through your hair, along the fine wood’s grain, your head should stay on your shoulders for at least a while more.

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March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


(Context: Genesis 19:23)

He tells me that his name is Orpheus. He sits before me as I, too, sit, here at the base of of this mountain, on this plain that is cursed by fire, ringed with fire. As I sit, my back rests against mossy rock. His rests against nothing, supported only by his firm resolve never to look to the south again.

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October 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments


(Context: Genesis 3:23)

Snake stands tall beside me. His bronze scales reflect the steady sun as they glisten in this constant misting rain. My left hand rests on his strong shoulder, as his hand rests on mine. “So this is the end,” my thoughts say to him.

“The end of this existence,” his thoughts reply. “The beginning of the next.”

Around us, the garden is shrinking. All my life, it had extended throughout all that we could see, off beyond the horizon where everything grew vague. Now the garden has edges, and they are rushing toward us. Continue reading

April 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


(Context: 2 Kings 25:18)

Fire — all around me — fire — wings of fire — tongues of fire — apparitions of angels and demons of fire. I rush through fire, through rooms of fire, halls of fire — through paths and patterns made unfamiliar by fire — until I pass through fire to the secret room — the home of God — the holy hall that only I can know —

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March 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jephthah’s Daughter

(Context: Judges 11:40)

I am dead, dead to the world, dead to my father, dead to myself. Here, lying on this cold stone slab atop Mount Moriah, I have sworn to leave this world, to give over my spirit to my father’s god, to abandon this weary body and let my soul sink down into whatever fate this unyielding god has planned.

I have always been only my father’s daughter. No one calls me by my own name. I have only seen what he let me see, learned what he let me learn. And now I am to die, by simple trivial fate: He went to war. He swore to his god that if he won, he would sacrifice the first living thing that came through his gate toward him when he returned. I saw him coming home. I ran out to greet him. So now I am to die.

It is dark here, under this shard of the new moon, and nearly silent. The only light comes from the stars. The only sounds are those of wind, of distant frogs, and of a single repeating bleating from nearby.

I want to fade, to silence my mind, but the repeating sound keeps calling me back, holding me here. I try to silence it in my soul by breathing in its rhythm, but that makes it stronger rather than causing it to blend and disappear. So be it. I open my eyes, sit up and trying to find the sound.

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March 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments


(Context: Genesis 7:10)

Reaching out, reaching high into the night to touch the sky, to touch your stars, I fall again to earth. Here, in the mud, the dust, the ash, I cry, cry out your name. Nothing echoes, here on this sodden plain that we once knew as desert. My voice fades into emptiness, heard only, if at all, by this angel and by the moon.

Each ray of light cast through the dark brush here paints shadows of your form, spells with images of branches the letters of your name. I close my eyes and see in my internal sky the grace of your dance, hear within whispers of wind the streams of your song, feel in the tracings of the rain your hands as you once touched my face, my tears as I heard you leave, the waters as they swept away what I dreamed would be our home.

But when my eyes open, all I see are bones, bones upon bones.

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February 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Wife of Cain

(Context: Genesis 4:17)

I slide down from atop the man, feeling the damp earth for the first time, remembering how it will feel when I feel it again. The man and I are also damp, damp with sweat. I remember that his name is Cain. He is breathing heavily, eyes now open, smelling the way that I remember that men who sweat will smell.

After a while, his breathing slows. He turns his head to look at me. “Who are you?” he asks.

“I am your wife.”

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February 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


(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.

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February 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Pharaoh (of the Exodus)

(Context: Exodus 1:12)

I am Pharaoh, ruler of all Egypt and god to all the world. Let all the world hear me: I am Pharaoh. I am known to all by many names, some shouted, some more powerfully whispered. But the only one that need survive, the only one that matters, is this: I am Pharaoh, as my father was Pharaoh and his father before him. We are all one god in this succession of bodies. This body may be destroyed, may be lost, or may be laid to sleep beside its ancestors in the grand tomb that my people are building in gratitude, in praise. But the god-king Pharaoh can never die, as this land, this people, this Egypt can never die.

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February 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments


(Context: 1 Kings 12:20)

My friends, priests, fellow leaders, people of Shechem, and citizens of the united tribes of the renewed nation of Israel: With both humility and pride, I joyfully accept my coronation as king. With humility, since you have chosen me, a workman from the lowest of families, for this highest of honors; with pride, since with this act the people have come together to throw off the yoke of tyranny and corruption, to return this nation to the role that the prophets of its god have foretold.

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January 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment