Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Third Book of Moses, Called Leviticus

“And here are the recipes,” God spake unto Moses. “Don’t screw it up.”
The people waited outside while Moses and Aaron got dressed.
They were nervous and Aaron’s girdle was too tight.
His head itched under the mitre.

Burn, Meat, Peace, Trespass, Salt, Sin.
The people fell on their faces.
Unclean. Clean. They did all right.

But God is picky. He devoured two of Aaron’s sons,
for He didn’t want strange fire,
He wanted burnt fat for sweet savors.
Aaron held his peace.
He and Moses continued to lay it out for everyone
about the fins and the scales, the chewing the cud and the cloven feet.

Then, there are diseases in the desert to purify—
white-in-the-skin, running issues, women,
scabs, pregnancy, the quick raw flesh—
but Aaron, honestly, is a little tired of God and Moses
dressing him up in the ephod, sprinkling him with blood,
though he doesn’t feel he has much of a choice.
So he shows them how to cleanse the leper.
He tells them about the scapegoat.
He kills a bird in an earthen vessel,
dips wood and a dove in its blood, blood, blood, blood, blood,
because this woman is sick of her flowers,
and this man hath seed of copulation.
They sprinkle it on the mercy seat.

“Tell them not to eat the blood, Aaron,” says Moses. “It’s God’s.”
“Tell them not to eat the blood, Aaron,” says Aaron,
“With all the sprinkling, sometimes it gets in my mouth!”
Moses claps a hand over Aaron’s face,
and eventually Aaron just gives in, for although he is older,
he knows he is not the main character. He tells the people
not to eat the blood, nor look at their mothers naked,
nor sacrifice any longer unto devils after whom they have gone a‒whoring,
and other sundry statutes.

One day Aaron sees Moses up there, sweating,
scrambling to take notes from God in the dust—
eat same day, burn if aught remain third day,
I am the Lord your God. No: swear, unrighteous judgment, defraud,
up & down talebearer, Lord UR God. Plant,
fourth year offer, fifth year eat fruit thereof, Lord God.
Rise up before hoary head, L-G, no vexing,
prostitutes, wizards, I am Lord, keep Sabbaths, Egypt, LG a just hin, LG LG LG—
and admits to himself that Moses might have it worse.

So every Saturday Aaron orders the oil olive beaten,
and lines up pure candlesticks to burn eternally before the Lord,
and shows his remaining sons how to do it, too, just in case.

He holds down the son of Shelomith (you know,
that Israelitish woman, Dibri’s daughter, tribe of Dan)
to be stoned for blasphemy.

He puts price tags on all the slaves.

He gathers the children of Israel
for Moses to say unto them the commandments:
“An eye for an eye, make ye no idols, all bondsmen released in the year of jubilee . . .
And the punishments:
“Terror, consumption, the burning ague, eaten by your enemies, eat yourself
the flesh of your sons, the flesh of your daughters . . .

But all the while Aaron has this terrible, sinking feeling
that neither of them will ever get hither into the holy land,
and as usual, the prophet, he is right.  end  

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