Hannah Yerington

SONG OF JUDITH

I begin by text.
I begin by holding the head of the king, by knowing the lines of his army’s general,
by being painted in the ink of Medusa.

The widow’s beauty is charmed,
her breasts full of the iniquities of her people,
her curves heavy with their lamentations.
She writes their prayers across her lungs.

I exist in the margins of the general’s tents.
I’ve written myself into center, into his chambers.
He traces the outline of my hips,
the shape of lands he wishes to conquer,
formed by a God he seeks to destroy.
I am the topography of his desire.

Does he know I’m the widow?
There is nothing virginal in my form.
Each fingernail has known hair,
has known skin, has known dirt,
has known rain.
I know to pretend that I am seen.

It is in these garments,
the black that marks me as sorrow, as shame,
that I began to exist.
That I held my body open,
my flesh, inscribed by a pen held only in my own hand,
ink of my own desire,
a secret theology,
the hymns and prayers of broken lineage.

When he drinks to my honour, he drinks to my secrets,
He knows I hold more than skin,
he has come to know that black fabric conceals landmarks,
waterfalls, mountain ranges, and sparrows.
But he does not know their cardinal points.

 Only I have record of their directions,
of longitude and latitude.
He does not know their maker.
He does not know my God.

My beauty is charmed,
my breasts full of the iniquities of my people,
my curves heavy with their lamentations.
I have written their prayers across my lungs. 

And when I take his head to my sword, his only grace is that it was not my pen.


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