An excerpt from So Many Silent, So Many Unnamed
Shelomith, The Blasphemer’s Mother, Leviticus 24[i]
I am named but my son is not. He is stoned to death but I am not. Did I teach him to question? Am I a daughter of Eve? Is it better that he isn’t strangled or beheaded? That he doesn’t have to swallow hot lead? I hold his ghost in my arms as I held my newborn babe. My body aches with loss. Slaves are forced to carry the red sandstone and pile it in heaps. My son is brought forward, his hands tied behind his back. He is covered in a shroud from head to toe. He is thrown into a hole. He is buried to his waist. He cannot move. He cannot see. [ii] How many stones is enough to kill a man? Who threw the first stone?
Aholibamah, name changed to Judith, Genesis 36
I do not refer to myself by name. I am nameless. Named after mountains, named by my husband. They call me Oholibamah, woman of the high tent, mother to important men. I am nothing. I am the ancestor of Mary. I am made of water. I am made of blood. I give birth to blood and it stains the earth. The sons of Essau, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, come from blood and cause blood to be spilled. These are the generations of Heaven and Earth, where the great sun swallows the chaos of water and thirsts for nothing.[iii]
Elisheba, Exodus 6:23[iv]
I am more than a twin. What is my oath? My husband’s brother leads us out of Egypt. I move toward the future but I am reticent. My sister is the oak and my mother the earth. My daughters are unnamed. I am Elizabeth’s shadow. She bore John the Baptist, I gave birth to priests and strange fire.
Asenath, Genesis 41[v]
Honey, sweet on my lips. This is my punishment. My lips repeatedly stung. The angel visits me. Pharaoh’s son hungers for me. I belong to Yaweh. I belong to Joseph. He feasts on my body, always sweet and my golden skin. In secret I wear the gold given to me by men who wish to be my lovers. It blackens. It is merely lead. I lie naked in a field of safflowers. Await the kisses of the bees.
Leviticus 11, 14, 16
The visual poems are part of the Vispo Bible, a life’s work to translate every book, every chapter, every verse of the Bible into visual poetry.
Text for the tw0 visual poems
Leviticus 11 And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) x
Leviticus 14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. x
And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. x
Genesis 41-45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On.
Amanda Earl (she/her) is a polyamorous pansexual feminist writer, visual poet, editor and publisher who lives in Ottawa with her husband Charles. Her books are A World of Yes (DevilHouse, Ottawa, Ontario, 2015); Kiki (Chaudiere Books, Ottawa, Ontario, 2014 now available with Invisible Publishing), Coming Together Presents Amanda Earl (Coming Together, New York City, 2014). Her latest chapbook is En Fer, A Long Poem About A Love Affair (Ghost City Press, 2020). The Vispo Bible: Matthew is coming out with Knife Fork Book in 2021, all being well.
Amanda is the managing editor of Bywords.ca and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress. Further information is available at AmandaEarl.com. Connect with Amanda on Twitter @KikiFolle.