Miryam’s Lament

Note: “Miryam” is the earlier, more accurate Hebrew pronunciation of the name “Mary”.

Before you, Yosef,

I only knew the roughness of the white goat’s flank on my cheek.

The mottled one bucked wild whenever it saw me come to milk,

so your ginger beard was a surprise, like green things in the dessert.

My mother took my hands in hers

and we sowed the seeds in the field together,

precious things in the dirt when I was too young to understand worth.

I do not whip the rugs in the wind so ruthlessly,

do not gorge on grapes to staunch the sour with sweet.

She could not sweep the dirt from the door fast enough

for me to understand what it was she was getting rid of.

She braided my hair and touched my cheek

like it was a thing she could not have.

Divine was leeks cooked long and

your hands carving wood, shavings of pine. Those are easy to want.

Everything we know has been so simple—

rotted fish scales and dust, oak and cypress,

dry wind and sometimes green things.

Haltingly discover the names of plants

and the small red beetles that buzz away from the meat,

when we are done with eating for the night.

Though you sigh, you let me turn the odd word over in my mouth,

awl, tell me what it is, explain.

I do not know if the promises of angels

are as sturdy as your chairs.

Your eyes went wide and your hand quivered harsh when you saw

my belly round the first night in your bed.

I am sorry I cannot make you laugh like your sister can.

That dangerous cool night, you carved me

a stool so little and tough it

could break like the skin on your fingers when the wind is dry,

or a fish scale under a rough heel and trailing linen.

And you raged gentle in your eye

until the son of the Lord became your own

and you understood.

© 2015 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.

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