Huldah Prophesies (a Premature but Peaceful Death for the Beloved King of Judah) ~II Kings 22:14–20 & II Chronicles 34: 22-28 My name is nothing to brag about— its origin akin to vermin, weasel or mole—imagine naming your daughter that!—though I do dig beneath the meanings of things. Messengers and priests visit me often here in the Mishneh, the new quarter where business booms and the western wall rises. I’ve grown accustomed to their nagging questions, their desire to hear from on high arduous answers. And today, four men— Hilkiah, the high priest, Shaphan, the scribe, Asaiah, the king’s servant, Ahikam, and Akbor— like horses in the future apocalypse— came to me (not my cousin Jeremiah), the wife of the royal wardrobe’s keeper, I, who sift serial facts from fictional chaff, who can offer mercy for the king who’s just discovered his nation’s sins. What can I say? Amid my lesson to the young women in my house, the men galloped in, breathless, their voices braying, brows caked with dust and the sweat of urgency. They’d found a book buried beneath precious metal hidden in the temple. I tell you it doesn’t get any better than this. And I was the one who knew whether it was the word of G-d. I sent the women home, then took a look. Sh'ma Yisrael, yes, listen, my tongue intoned, eyeing these men who studied Hebrew texts incomplete until today. They were obeying orders, pulverizing idols, repairing the breaches of the temple, the couplings and roof-beams desecrated, when they found the terrifying treasure. Tell this man, I said, for I knew Josiah was created from clay like me. Mine was the voice of Yahweh that rose above the masculine crowd. I sometimes didn’t recognize its commanding pitch and tenor, its throaty insistence on decrees and divinations. No one could keep it down. Tell him the nation will fall. Eleh haDevarim, these are His words. Curses! Curses. You and I will see it all before we die. The men’s necks tightened, their mouths filled with speech- less fear. An owl on the roof howled. I who am chosen of Adonai to speak these hard truths took one necessary breath. Then, beyond anyone’s imagination, came the rest.
A Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Book of the Year Award. She has also had poetry appear in African American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. Moore is the Writing Center Director at Taylor University in Indiana, where she is the poetry editor for Relief Journal. Learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.