The trick is to catch her

at the moment she says what a cute baby,

to make the rest of the way easier.

You like it? It’s yours, at no

extra effort on your part.

For the slightest of fees we

provide the child care, keep

the kid out of your hair

those times when he can be a pain.

I cannot explain

the way I knew it then,

the spell of transforming

my doomed brother

into Prince of Egypt

even before I was given a name.




It was simply a question of power

I said black

He said white

My brother understood,

mediated my skin.

He knew

from the beginning

I was used to

watching out for him

using my big mouth

to make him prince.




When Miriam died,

only the rock wept.

And it watered the Israelites

in the desert,

and gave them life.



It is Yom Kippur, 2000.

I am sitting at home, alone,

trying not to keep turning on CNN,

paralyzed as it is with grief.

And I take a shower, to help wash

the sin from me, the sin of isolation

and paralysis. And who walks in

but Miriam, a bit distracted

and lonely, and wanting to talk.

She has her timbrel with her, in case

there’s peace at the end of this day

but even her robes are wilting as if

nothing has that old crispness.

“In the old days,” she says,

“I danced at the defeat of those

who tried to keep us in chains.

Now I weep, even though

they want us dead.

“We manage to survive.

But we are all mingled

in the salt water

that once served

only to divide.”