What if Miriam Had Climbed Up the Mountain and Left Moses Waiting With the Multitudes?
Would the commandments be a softer thing
written with a wing-like stroke, an incantation
of phrases ordering the day?
Was it the brash way of Moses that brought down
the heavy hand of heaven thrusting and weighty,
so that only stone could sustain the inscription?
If Miriam had climbed the steep slopes bracelets tinkling,
exchanges whispered in those highest of altitudes
would we now have a list of suggestions?
And if Moses had stayed below bringing order to those
lost tribes gilded with abandon would we have been left
to wander forty years, never arriving into sweetness?
When Miriam descended Sinai, would her scarves
have shone incandescent on the breeze, her tambourine
sonorous, her voice decrying love, gratitude, blessings
and the exact directions to the promised land?
Would we have settled in those hills —
families, tribes and strangers, granting
new names to the lands, weaving a tapestry of laws,
leaving the unforgiving thunderous burden of stone
on the mountain, far beyond anyone’s reach?