Friday, January 9, 2015

Month of Poetry #9: Liar

Back to my series on Maligned or Misrepresented Women of the Bible, with a pretty comprehensively maligned woman this time. The only named woman in the story of the Heresy of Peor, Cozbi was the daughter of a Midianite leader, Zur, who married - or paired up with, at least - the Israelite Zimri. To say that she meets a sticky end is a comprehensive understatement. (Her story is in Numbers 25:6-18). It's her death, along with her lover Zimri's, which brings an end to the deaths in Israel of the plague visited on them for their idolatry.

Biblical scholarship has it that Cozbi was part of a plot (the one hatched by the prophet Balaam on behalf of the Moabite King, Balak) to corrupt the children of Israel and bring down Yahweh's curse on them. (Her name itself is derived from the Hebrew kazab, meaning "to lie or deceive").  I speculate here that the truth might have been a bit more complicated than that.

WARNING: This poem NSFW or kids.


they said I lied these children Yahweh's children moaning dying of their plague sores crying
red on the tents goatskins all red blood is sticky flies come to it
so sure they are they are to be saved so sure
if they rid themselves of what Yahweh hates

contamination corruption idols openings fluids sex sinuosity painted women
women like me deceivers liars traps honeybaits death desire putrescence ecstasy
swaying hips gilded breasts lidded eyes kohl tipped heavy speaking secrets
not ashamed not afraid scenting need scenting sweat bringing rites in the dark

they said I lied coming to this place my gold eyes knowing leading him by hand to the dark tent
daughter of lies my father chief in Midian my prayers to He of the Opening
and to Yahweh too we remember the burning bush burns in our cells too children of Abraham we
a less regarded wife our foremother but still but still

they said I lied trapping them deeper into sin into misery into death plotting with my father
with Balaam with Balak to curse them bring down Yahweh's wrath to destroy them utterly
take their flocks their tents their cymbals their wells deep desert wells
this is what they said -

liar he said Phineas the priest said as he thrust his spear into me my belly open darkness pouring
laying in the tent with my lover between my legs delicate bells on my ankles I saw
life draining light leaving Peor! Yahweh! you know I did not lie I did not
gods of opening and closing I came here to strangeness to black dying all for desire

and I am punished for it Yahweh's children will live they will live they will put away Ashteroth
they will put away Baal-Peor they will wail and throw ashes they will make psalms and sing
they will be armies they will be spears they will be great cities of gold they will be great
I will go silent into the ground into their book into the night

- Kathy, 9/1/15

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