by Carl Dennis from Meetings with Time
Time to praise the other Moses, the one who concludes
That the bush isn't really burning, as he first supposed,
Just backlit in red by the setting sun,
Magnified by the need of a runaway to be pardoned,
To pull his shoes off and receive a vision.
The Moses who, when he lifts his staff,
Can't part the waters, who has to wade in
At low tide and hope for the best.
Nobody drowns. Nobody's following. The twelve tribes,
Sluggish after a hard day in the quarries,
Didn't find his lecture on the virtues inspiring.
And Pharoah was willing to see him go.
Good riddance, what with his praise of creation
That gouged the work month with holidays.
Now he's wringing his clothes out on the other side,
Relieved it hasn't taken him any longer to realize
He isn't much of a prophet, that he hasn't the gift.
Free now of the journey to the Promised Land
And the wars with the natives, he can settle down at once
Whenever he pleases, and be happy even here
In the country that disappointed Columbus,
That wasn't the hoped-for shortcut to spices.
Happy even on this block of mine, my neighbor,
A civics teacher at the high school,
Who leaves the gate to his yard unlocked
So the neighborhood children can pick the berries
Before the frost comes and leaf smoke rises
From small, mute fires he's lit himself.