Thursday, June 23, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 22, belated, Mike Timonin, "Goliath's Mother's Lament"

Ack! Yesterday was a little crazy, for reasons, but that's not an excuse. I even had a poem planned to share! Here it is, the response I wrote to Amal's poem from "yesterday." Obviously, I cannot review my own work, but here's the background - I'm working (slowly - so slowly that I'm not sure it counts as "working") on a cycle of poems based on the Old Testament; specifically, stories of people who didn't make it into The Book. So. Here's the backstory on Goliath. (Oh - I like to write narrative poetry, and I also like to write short, epigramatic poems. This is from the first sort!)


Goliath’s Mother’s Lament

I had a son once, you know,
Strong and big and brave – not so smart, but smart is overrated, I think.
I had a son once, and I thought he would live forever,
And he thought he would live forever,
And why not? He was strong, and big, and brave,
And all I had – surely Death would not dare to take him?
I had a son once, and when he was born the midwives said
“he will be strong, and big, and brave, and he will help on the farm,”
And they were right – he grew fast, and could lift two goats when he was just a boy,
He was strong, yes, but gentle:
the cows gave sweeter milk when he tended them, I swear.
He was gentle, yes, but not soft:
When the ox gored his father, my son carried the broken, bleeding body home to me,
And then he killed the ox as a death gift; but gently, one strike to its head:
He carried that body home, too.
I had a son once, strong and brave, big and gentle;
He would not fight with the other boys,
He was too big, he said,
But I saw him bruised and bleeding more than once,
Because he would not back away when someone smaller needed help.
I had a son once, so big and strong that, soon, he did not need to fight,
The sound of his footstep was enough,
The sight of the fist he used to kill the ox sufficed.
I had a son once,
So big and brave,
The men came with bronze armor and a sharp sword,
They said, “your son is big, and strong, and brave, and we need him,
He won’t have to fight – just the sight of him, like a bronze clad tower,
With a sword like God’s own scythe,
Our enemies will flee like insects when you light a lamp,”
And they took my son, so brave, so big, so strong,
And we were wrong,
Death dared to come – not at first, but in time,
Death came in the form of a small boy,
Death came in the form of a small sling,
Death came in the from of a small stone,
And who could carry that body home to me,
Broken and bleeding?
And who could make a death offering of that boy,
With one strike of the fist?
And who will gentle the sweet milk out of my cows now,
And lift the goats, two at a time, into to olive trees?

I had a son once, you know.