Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Justice (Poem)

Picking up on a theme I got interested in during January's month of poetry, this is another poem in my Maligned and Mistreated Women of the Bible series. This one is about Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, and eventual mother of his twin sons through a twisted series of events. Tamar wanted justice, and she got it, but played a very dangerous hand to get there.

My husband, Er (your eldest son, old man): Er was a man of beauty
such a man! his hair soft as the fleece on a kid, his eyes pools of stillness
in the night, our cries joining; our tent a haven for only joyous things
such gentleness could never live. And he did not.
My tent darkened forevermore the day I sent him to Yahweh,
My womb empty, and my cradle.

You gave me next Onan, your second son, as you were bound to do -
To make a child for Er, whose blood no longer stirred,
whose hands - such hands! - no longer animated me;
That son (Your son!) thought to cheat me
Lying to me while lying with me, his contemptuous heart
So small, hard as a stone, who would not give justice to a widow, a son to his brother -
The Lord your God is not mocked, old man.
Justice was served, and Onan followed beloved Er into the night.

I saw your face the day we buried him, the trouble in your eyes; I knew, then,
that you thought of me as at fault, for these lost children.
"Go back to your father's house", you said to me, "Go back and wait" -
Your baby, Shelah, a boy whose voice had yet to break, not ready to deliver me my due
He shall so deliver it, you promised. When he is full-grown.
Go back and wait, Tamar. Four years, five;
You shall have your son, Er's son, when time ripens Shelah to the marriage bed.

Oh, old man. I shall have my son. None of your deceptions will prevent it.
I shall bear Er a son of your line, whether you will or no.

Now I wait, in my harlot's tent, by the dusty roadside, where you will pass.
I have layered my veil carefully; in your frustration and lust, you will not know me;
Shelah is a man grown, and I, well, I am fading, and I am not waiting more.

I shall call to you as you pass, swaying my hips; you shall pledge payment to me, and
the tokens I will have of you will be my strength and my shield.
I shall close my eyes, old man, and think of my husband
and of the sons I shall bear him, as you groan and shudder
I shall let justice be my banner, and the Lord our God my witness

For you owed me a son, Judah, old Judah -
and Tamar is not gainsaid
let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream

I shall not burn;
I shall bear sons, and Er my husband will have his rest

and you will know I have the right of it
you will declare it among the tribes of Israel

Old Lion of Judah, father / grandfather to my sons
my perfect sons.

- Kathy, 8/7/14

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