Why did they name you Miryam,

Bitter Sea?

Did they know how bitter life would be

eclipsed by your brothers?

Little girl keeping watch over

Moses’ basket on bloodied Nile waters.

Fearless girl, bartering with Pharaoh’s daughter

to pay your mother as wet nurse.

Prophetess by the Sea of Reeds,

leading the women

singing and dancing,

hand drums beating out

the first Song of the Sea.


challenging Moses’ authority.

Bitter heresy

questioning God’s favorite.

God leper-skinned you,

flesh rotting like a stillborn’s,

seven days outcast,

to put you in your place.

When you died at Kadesh

they buried you,

and didn’t mourn.

No elegy for Bitter Sea.

Did the scribes,

in their exilic exaltation

of Moses, erase you?

Scraping ink from their parchments,

sweeping you, like so much dust,

from memory?

Sing, Miryam!

Sing the song of bitter seas.

Tell us what it was to bear

the too-bright glare

of Moses’ face,

the weight of Aaron’s calf-disgrace,

patriarchy’s piss marking you,

the shame of God white-smiting you.

Your memory edited,

your song credited

to Moses.

Sing, Bitter Sea,

long silenced one!

Author of the ancient song.

Reclaim your voice,

possess your place

among Israel’s



Dr. Susan Pigott

Susan Pigott, Ph.D., is Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew Logsdon School of Theology Hardin-Simmons University.

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