CHANGING THE FOCUS
HIS PEOPLE ARE THE PARTNER PEOPLE
In the land of injustice and division there lived a group of people who trusted in God’s promises. They were sometimes called the Anawim. Under the heavy weight of their oppression they cried out to God…to send a prophet like Elijah and then a king Like David…who would liberate them and establish justice and mercy—a manna society… Daniel Erlander Manna and Mercy
I. He sits with the children
and talks his story in hand-written words
eyes following along, children’s eyes,
recognizing letters, knowing
words one at a time,
calling them out as he writes,
full of wonder for what comes next.
Using language their teacher uses
at school, he calls it a booklet,
what he’s making,
drawing pictures like the children,
making fun of the same things,
working on the same lessons.
Share the crayons. Everyone gets a snack.
We can wait until we’re all getting along.
II. He takes on the Big Deals
with color crayons. His time
is after-exile, finds himself shaped
by the magic eye of art
uncovering unseen worlds.
The seen world’s mischief seems
to be in control, he muses,
exhuming exile’s memory.
His booklet is for grownups, too.
He’s hoping for parents even though he suspects
his booklet will go on painted shelves
in the children’s room.
I find him in the End Notes
at the back of the book
where he talks to grownups
after they’ve put the kids to bed.
Be careful what you say
about outsiders, he says here.
They witness to an alternative vision.
The Bible subverts the Bible.
Then it subverts you.
You’ll stand straight if you get this.
And walk with women.
I portray, he says, Miriam
as equal partner with Moses and Aaron,
her two brothers. Phyllis Trible says
Miriam led, then got covered up by those
who passed on tradition. The whole
Song of Moses, Exodus 15, probably hers,
not just the refrain. Says, too,
she was crucified in Numbers 12,
later resurrected in New Testament stories
which bear her name, Mary,
Mary, the mother of Jesus and the other Marys.
Miriam is Greek for Mary.
He’s been patient with me. He has.
Dan Erlander, man of bread enough and mercy.
He waited twenty years for me to get it.
This is the way it is making things new,
putting things back, waiting for Big Deals
to pick up their crayons and color.
Mary is always singing this song.
25 January—15 April 2014