Judith and Holofernes. Jael and Sisera.
And me, plucking up orange petals from the cobblestone street, beneath the apartment window.
Blown a kiss in passing. Whistled at the evening before by two smoking men in a glowing doorway. “Tutta bella,” our landlord grinned as he handed us the key.
Is this honor or dishonor? Why am I ashamed?
It cuts me quickly to be perceived as available because American, judged by the immediacy of beauty.
What do I want, really?
“Nothing I know of yet.”
Rarely have I wanted so concretely as I have here, to be held. To be desired as wife, companion, friend. I cannot be your mother.
How great the girl that carried Your small body in her womb, her arms, and limply on her lap at last. How great is gentleness?
Mother of God. Lilies, mimosa.
There is fierce hope in the feminine heart. Forgiveness. The more we give, the more we love, they’ve said.
Though we deserve every jab and label (paint thorns and needles - bark sharp orders - spiral into preening, posing, gleaming florid faces and bared flesh for “we are more like Eve than the animals”) –
This is, at last, a story of mercy.
A woman is not laughter, perfume, or lively conversation. She, must be holy.
And so hold pain, bear loss, and hope in the impossible.
I am deeply a woman here.