Monday, February 14, 2011

The Prodigal Mother

“What woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one…does not… sweep the house, and search carefully until she find it?” Luke 15.8

Like David belting to fight Goliath,
Miriam at market tightens her girdle
to haggle with the rabbi’s wife,

who asks too much for her black beans.
She’s so righteous – you’d think
she sleeps with Moses. At home

Miriam places ten Yehud drachmas
on the counter, each with Caesar’s Roman
nose full in her Jewish face. All at once

only nine Has she dropped one?
With her bramble broom she sweeps until
she finds it near the woodpile.

A lost silver coin’s not nothing
in her house. To raise a cup for finding
what was lost, she calls across

the fence to the tanner’s wife and the shepherd’s
wife. They've shared her wine before.
Like the year her rebel daughter, Sarah,

ran away to a far country with a tavern
stud: chest of black hair, pimp roll,
and a camel driver’s come-on smile.

Sarah’s a fire-cat queen with claws,
no home girl. She likes clanging bracelets,
ankle bells, the danger of strangers.

The brave man gave her trinkets,
beat her black. Swollen jaw,
a cut above her puffy eye, she came

hacking back, a discarded consumptive
from his stable of harlots. Through the window
Miriam sees her three vineyards away.

She'd know that slouch anywhere, the way
Sarah shuffles. Out of the house Miriam
charges, runs down the road like a demented

lion to gather in her wounded cub.

Kilian McDonnell OSB