Thursday, February 7, 2008
A father gives up his only child to die,
the son of a whore seals his daughter's virginity.
She dies intact, burnt as an offering
to the one in whose image she is made.
The story (the way he's told it) says
she insists he keep his vow,
unthinking promise in the heat of prayer
to sacrifice the first thing he sees
if he comes home from battle victorious.
She wrings from him two months of grace
to wander in the hills and grieve
that she will not die as other women,
as her companions in tears will die:
worn out by war and famine,
bled dry by relentless childbirth.
Two months and then the binding,
the flash, the flow, the spark, the smoke,
offered to the one in whose image she was made,
who, an age later,
will also give up an only child to die,
yet who, far farther in the future,
will watch countless children of Jephthah
squirm and die and be consumed
and still not interfere.