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  • Miriam Leads the Singing
  • Gail White (bio)

"And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphedgloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."

Exodus 15:21

Some scholars believe this to be the oldest verse in the Bible.

Of course we knew how to sing. Slaves always know. People can sing who can neither laugh nor cry. We knew the field call, the ring shout, and how to mock the overseer, singing "How many bricks does Pharaoh need? Ten thousand more!"

Of course we knew how to dance.We were never too tired at the hot day's end to make vine-leaf patterns with our feet, to dance defiance and victory, [End Page 33] our hearts the drum, our lungs the ram's horn.

And when deliverance cameand the water rose like walls, we were not dumb or abashed in the presence of miracles. As always, it was the women who found their voices first. We sang praise, while the sea closed over the rusting chariots, drowning horsemen. Over and over we called and answered: The horse and the rider,       the horse and the rider         he has thrown into the sea.

Gail White

Gail White writes her poems in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana on the banks of Bayou Teche, where she lives with her cats Pushkin and Muffin. A critical essay on her work can be read at She is frequently published in literary journals and anthologies, and her latest chapbook Ignoble Truths, is available from Scienter Press. She can be contacted at



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pp. 33-34
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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Archived 2012
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