© 2008 -- 2011 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Egyptian, why’d you come if all you want’s
To sit and stare at cracks that climb the walls?
My breast that longs to feel your hand caress
It lies here bare while you ignore my needs.
You might as well not stay as make me feel
I have no husband. Tell me what I’ve done
To make you turn your face away from me.
Please help me understand, Moses, why you
Have shut me so completely from your life.

I wish I knew your dreams. Each night I lie
Beside you while you toss and cry out names –
Egyptian names I’ve never heard you say
But names demanding terror even here.
I want to see the things you see, but how?
Aren’t I your wife? And didn’t Father take
You in, make you a son, and give you all
He has? Then why do you reject us now
With silence, Moses? Tell me what I’ve done.

Zipporah, near Mt. Horeb, where I take
The sheep to feed, I found a bush still green
And unconsumed by desert sun. The sheep
Won’t touch it. And as I wondered at it I
Removed my sandals. I felt as if I stood
On holy ground. Then to this place a man
Who’d fled from Egypt came and asked
If I could give him water, and I did.
And while he drank, he told a brutal tale

Of evil winding in Egyptian sands,
Of Hebrew bodies covered with raw sores,
Of babies starved because their mothers not
Allowed near wells go dry. And as he talked
I raised my hands to look at them. Look here.
This skin, Zipporah, it’s their skin. Their sores
Have covered both my palms. I dropped my staff.
I stared at him. I stammered. Then I asked
Could no one help, and all he said was, “You.”

No, Moses, don’t think that. Come here and lie
Beside me. There is nothing you can do.
You left them long ago. Lie here with me.
We are your kin, and you’ve become like us.
This desert land, Egyptian, is your home.
Let Pharaoh answer for his sins. Don’t take
Them on yourself. The people there don’t want
Your help. They ran you off. They’re Pharaoh’s slaves.
You have your life. Leave justice up to God.

Originally published in The Columbus Dispatch, 1980.
© copyright 2004, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved


  1. WOW. Perfect for a Sunday's reading.

  2. I never think I am clever enough to comment on your blog...so I'll just say "Sup?"

  3. KMcJ. If you're not clever enough, then I need to stop posting. I really like your blog. And I emjoy your comments on mine. So 'sup? Hey, man, 'sup?

  4. I like "No, Moses, don’t think that."

    Moses supposes his toeses are roses?

    Ah, the good old Columbus Dispatch. I don't subscribe anymore, though.

  5. Hi, Willow. I was very excited when I finally moved from Columbus that maybe I could find a good newspaper to subscribe to. Ironically, I moved Manchester, New Hampshire. God should save the world from the Union Leader.

    This poem with several others along with an interview with me about how I approached writing poetry appeared in a column in the Sunday Arts section that featured local poets and local poetry events. It was part of my fifteen minutes.

  6. "We were there" in your words. Bravo.

  7. Oh, how I was able to feel, through your words, what Zipporah was feeling and longing for. I was saddened by her plight. She felt abondoned, ignored, and unloved. She was a woman in loved that, all she wanted was for her husband to love her back. Was that too much to ask?

    Alas, Moses was far more preoccupied with bigger issues-- issues bigger than his wife's. The weight of the world was upon him--a great responsibility, which he couldn't ignore. He was so committed to that responsibility that he was willing to sacrifice the needs of his wife for the needs of the masses.

    The Grandpa, please let me know if my understanding of your poem is anywhere close, or if I am completely off the mark. Hee, hee.


  8. I'd say you're pretty close, Tasha.