In the Mountains of Gilead: Jephthah’s Daugher

By Elizabeth Cranford Garcia

My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. . . . Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

— Judges 11:36-7

I have known no man. I have only
known their black bead gazes, some flickering
moths in firelight, others burning coals.
Those still singe my skin, my insides sore
with emptiness. Jehovah-yir’eh.
In this high place, thorns of balsam tear
my skirts, my flesh when I forget my steps.
How cruel underbrush could heal a wound
I do not know, only that my mother
smoothed its balm, once soothed affliction
in her hands. Jehovah-yir’eh.
Tomorrow I descend to ceremony,
ascend the altar, await the angel
to stop my father’s hand. Jehovah-yir’eh.

About Elizabeth Cranford Garcia

Elizabeth Cranford Garcia is the current Poetry Editor for Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, previous Poetry Editor for Segullah, and a contributor to Fire in the Pasture: 21st Century Mormon Poets. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, and her first chapbook, Stunt Double, was published in 2015 through Finishing Line Press. Her three small children compete with her writing for attention, and usually win.

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