The Hebrew people will die free.
There are no words to describe the way Moses hesitates,
the way we all do,
at the shores of the sea, feeling equal parts dread and
pharaoh's breath on the backs of our necks.
And, yes, we will die free,
but we will still die,
whether at the hands of the sea before us,
or at the hands of the Egyptians.
And we did not leave just to die.
Moses does not know my name. I’m not sure many of those traveling with us do.
But Adonai does.
My heart is His, my bones, His, my voice, His.
If all freedom gives me is the choice of what kills me then
I will die singing. I will die walking.
Moses does not know my name but
I will stand before him,
before the sea,
and before Egypt
and I will sing to the sky from the top of my lungs.
Who is like you Adonai, among the gods who are worshipped?
The water is at my ankles, my knees,
my waist, my ribs,
and I admit to fear when the water touches my neck, but my body belongs to Adonai before it belongs to the pharaoh, and long before it belongs to the sea.
And when the water reaches my mouth, into my throat, and chokes out my words, I sing my throat raw.
The water rises, thundering at my ears but I will rival it.
I will drown it out as much as it threatens to drown me. Adonai will hear me.
He will have no choice but to hear me and to listen.
Who is like you, Adonai?
Who, among these gods,
among these men,
amidst this sea,
who, glorious in holiness,
will do His people this wondrous deed?
I do not see Moses raise his staff. I feel the water pull away from me on both sides
and leave me standing where I was once floating. Once drowning.
I hear the chorus of thousands over my coughing the saltwater out of my lungs.
We walk as His people,
sing as His people,
after Moses with his hands raised, leading us on His path,
we escape as His people.
Today, forced to choose
between water in front of me and enemies behind me,
I chose Adonai above me.
My body in His hands, my heart in my throat, my legs shaking, but my feet one in front of the other,
certain only in going forward. Today,
the Hebrew people will live free.
Not Divine, But Holy Enough
There are two suits of armor: one for you, and one for me, and we are going to play hide and go seek.
I believe I should hide first and always,
and you will search high and low but
I will always be just out of your reach.
I believe I’ll call you seeker,
and you will call me flighty.
There will come a day, I believe,
ill-fated but inevitable,
where you will find me,
and I will be subjected to the most gruelling question one could pose me.
Do I believe?
Do I believe in the divine
presence of a creator,
you ask, do I believe
I was made for a purpose?
I believe I've only ever fought against a
purpose, only ever fought against
whatever a creator may have intended.
I believe I am the last of my family. My friends are all but gone. I believe that love has been taken and
taken and taken and never returned and I believe it is time I start asking for my experiences back.
I believe in nothing so divine as the hard lines of your face and the way they look when they finally, finally soften.
I believe that if a creator exists,
that you were made from stone
and I was made from fire.
I believe you,
when you read me verses,
that there must be something greater.
But I believe loss has also hardened me irreversibly and every second I believe
is fleeting. It is worth it to hear
your voice but how many
prayers does it take to believe?
I'm a dissonant verse, struck from the holy book, an afterthought, a casualty. Once someone believed in
me but now I don't fit right, and I believe
you are the golden hand that struck me.
Why strike if one verse doesn't threaten
the rest of them? But no, no I don't believe
you see me as a threat,
and just a bit of coaxing will bring me to the light
But I believe my doubt is good, it is hardened, and I believe
it is only a matter of time before the world cries blasphemy. Then what will you believe?
I'm simple; you know this.
I have felt grief and a series of losses disguised as wins
that only delayed the inevitable but never could stop it. I believe
you understand my apprehension.
I believe in the concrete, and
sometimes even that is not enough.
Sometimes I was not enough.
I believe there are dead that speak my name.
There is a reason you sought me and it was not to
convince me to bathe in the golden light of your creator. I don't believe
you ever intended to get that close.
I believe your efforts to open my eyes are for your own benefit. I believe
there is a personal stake in the matter.
That the world will cry blasphemy is not a question
of if, but when, and I believe you have every intention of defending me,
but you would prefer not to have the
obligation in the first place. So I don't believe
you are the exact hand that
strikes the dissonant verse of my body
from the holy book, but I believe
you know the hand that does the striking,
and you believe you can convince it to let me stay.
I believe in you.
And when all the spirits of those I have lost and who have lost me hide, and go, seeker, you will be the closest thing I have to a god, a creator, and the closest I come to understanding what one is. I believe enough for you,
and I believe
that is enough for me.
Orion Redgrave is the pseudonym of Megan Dressler, an undergraduate English major and Advertising minor. Their poetry and fiction were featured in Young Authors of Arizona’s 2014 anthology Bloom, and they have previously been published in The Tunnels. They are currently working on their project Curbside Romantics, which will be released as a biweekly online serial. In addition to writing, they enjoy watching hockey and playing video games.