Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Month of Poetry #27: Delilah

Back to Maligned or Mistreated Women of the Bible today, for a woman who is definitely given a bad name - Delilah, the "woman of Sorek" who teases the secret of his great strength from the Israelite warrior, Samson, and then betrays him to the Philistines.

I posit Delilah here as not so much hard-done-by as eminently pragmatic.

what makes you so strong, I said, bent on my knees
to wash his feet, dusty from the road. he gave that giant's-roaring laugh of his
the one straight from his gut, and said -
never you mind that, girl, let's go to bed.

but I want to know, I said, breathing on his earlobe
the way he likes, the way that makes him sigh.
what does make you strong - but he frowned, and turned away -
ah well. tomorrow is another day.

lying in the dawn, curled up in his vast side, I said
lover, tell me. tell me what would make you not strong -
fine, he murmured, half-awake
seven fresh bowstrings is all it will take.

that was a lie. he burst them easily, and
slammed my men's heads into the ground besides.
a wise man would've left then; but he?
he is not wise when it comes to me.

tell me! I demanded, stamping my foot. his eyes
darkened with desire as I unhitched my robe
you're so beautiful when you're angry, he groaned,
seven new ropes, and I'm dethroned.

I tied them so tightly, but it made no difference
he shrugged them off so casually, and killed more men withall.
I narrowed my eyes to slits, and hissed -
This has been our final tryst.

He still thought he had the whip-hand, you see.
Being huge and half-smart does that to a man.
Alright, alright, he chuckled, I'll say -
Weave my hair in your loom and my strength goes away.

I knew this wouldn't be it, but I knew, too,
That he was going to crack soon.
We went through the motions, and predictably
More men dead on the floor in front of me.

Time to end this farce; I am getting that silver
(And ending a menace. Do you know how many people this giant has slaughtered?)
You don't love me, I throbbingly breathe
You don't! You don't! You should definitely leave!

He thinks I may mean it, and his flame isn't burned out yet
Like all men, until it is, he's in thrall to it.
Delilah, he says, and he's quiet and sad -
Cut my hair off, and I'm just a big lad.

They put out his eyes, and I had to watch it
He didn't scream, not once, not even then
I was paid, and now my family has water
And food and fine cloths - I am such a good daughter

Later, I heard, his hair grew a little, his god heard him again,
And he brought the temple down on their heads.
That's nice, I thought, smiling with some satisfaction -
It wasn't personal, you know. Just a business transaction.

- Kathy, 27/1/15

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