So I was avoiding revising my novel the other day by thinking of anything other than my novel ... like my miscarriages (I had two because of toxins in our water supply). And I remembered that in The Book of Job, God kills their ten children. So I wrote this poem from the point of view of Job's nameless wife.
He gave it all back twofold,
so the story goes. Money, oxen, sheep.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away,”
said he whose name is
righteous in the books of men,
those books that do not tell the names
of the ten children the Lord took
in vain. I escaped
alone to tell you:
Eli, the oldest,
had dark grieving eyes,
as if he saw his future falling
down upon him;
Rachel, my good girl, freckled
and plain, a bustling little mother
to the young ones;
Rona, little bird,
sang in perfect tune and pitch.
Dvora, the queen bee,
had eyes the color of honey
and a wit that could sting.
Baruch was slow and hid
behind my legs when strangers came;
Aaron and Lev,
the rascal twins, spoke conspiracies
with their eyes and smirked.
Micah, wild and fleet,
ran away from home three times. Now
I wish he had run faster.
And Zev - my last I thought;
his hair was red and curled
around his face like wisps of holy fire.
did not curse the Lord. That day they gathered
together and, for the bread they were to eat,
they blessed the very Lord who felled the roof
that killed them.
I dug their graves and planted
my children in the ground
to grow like bitter herbs.
Job sat in the ashes
and called me foolish. Men came, scolded:
“This is the way of his joy and out of the earth
others shall grow.” As if that were enough.
“Great men are not always wise,” I snapped.
Now Job’s lips speak the names
of his rejoicing; Jemima, Keziah, Keren. Three
other daughters burnish him
like golden rings. Seven more sons raise
roofs they think are safe. But in the shadow
of my deaths I live blind
to his faith; an eye
does not replace an eye.
Only ten plus ten, and every single one
alive, would be enough for me. So I keep
my place. I am two verses
and a watchword in the good book
of God’s deeds. Nameless
as the dead, I stay and to his face I curse
the god who took my children. He
bet them like ten worthless coins,
in a game of dare with the devil
just to prove