Sorting by

Skip to main content

After Marc Chagall’s “Sarah and Abimelech”

What kind of fool flings his wife to another man
as if tossing a meaty shank to a drooling wolf,
thinking that will cure its desire to devour the flock?

An old fool with a memory like cheesecloth, that’s who.
He recalls only the donkeys and camels Pharoah gave him,
not my begging him, forehead to the dust, to preserve my honor.

So here I am in the king’s sumptuous bedchamber, half-truths
dripping like honey from my lips. If I were vindictive,
I would know how to repay my husband’s treachery.

But El Shaddai is a righteous judge; ashes still smolder
in the Jordan valley. He will accomplish the promise
concerning me if I bide my time, plying Abimelech with wine,

topping up his cup as he murmurs unearned confidences
in my ear until he is lulled into an uneasy sleep.
The truth of who I am will thunder forth in his dreams.

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

Patricia L. Hamilton

Patricia L. Hamilton is a Professor of English in Jackson, Tennessee, and is the author of The Distance to Nightfall. She won the Rash Award in Poetry in 2015 and 2017 and has received three Pushcart nominations. Her most recent work has appeared in Slant, The Ekphrastic ReviewPlainsongsThe Poetry Porch, and Prime Number Magazine.