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.