The mother of Moses
“Tonight he will be spared again,”
She thought, “And this time it is men
Of Egypt, not the infant boys
Of Jacob who will choke the joys
Of wives and mothers when they die.
And they, like us, will wonder why.”
The smell of roasted mutton hung
Like sweetened years. When she was young
Her mother used to make it good,
And smoke it with acacia wood.
A hundred years had come and gone
Since then, and her bright face was drawn
Now into wrinkled peace behind
The yellow candlelight that shined
There in the center of the room.
And how they waited for the doom
Of Egypt. Moses, Gershom and all
Their kin sat staring at the wall.
She watched them, glancing at the blood,
Now dry upon the cedar stud.
She saw the mighty Moses tense:
He was a first-born, too, and hence
His life lay on the sacrifice.
Was one small lamb sufficient price?
His mother reached and took the lyre,
And said, “Come over by the fire,
I have a God I want to show,
And then she smiled and chanted low:
Well, I once had a son
who was handsome as could be,
But I couldn’t show him off,
’cause they’d throw him in the sea.
For the wicked Pharaoh said
that the Jewish boys must die;
So I bowed my face to heaven,
and I let Him hear my cry.
Then the Lord looked down
and he saw me in the dark,
And he said, ‘Remember Noah,
do, and build that boy an ark.’
So I put him in a basket
and I set him out to sail,
And I know you won’t believe me
and you’ll think it’s just a tale:
Pharaoh’s daughter took him home,
and they let me come and stay,
And they trained a liberator,
and the Pharaoh paid his way.
Listen well now, mighty Moses,
and I’ll tell you what to learn:
There’s no mountain in your way now,
that the Lord can’t overturn.
The mighty Moses left his place
And knelt and put his tear-stained face
Against her woolen skirt and wept
Until with weariness he slept,
The meekest man of all the earth,
Protected by the Lord from birth.
And while he slept his mother prayed,
And once again the curse was stayed.
Lord, come and raise up mothers here,
Who sing of you and conquer fear.
Annoint them now, and let it be!
As we light advent candle three.