Dismissed palace servitors leave her to disrobe 
immured amid the mikvah’s white limestone, 
the chamber empty but for perfume amphorae, 
olive oil cruses, strigils to scrape pelts smooth.  
She perceives a male shadow, listens to footfalls,
observes the countenance of the king, 
who peers into her eyes with a lamentation 
lorn and reft of words, of breath, contradicting
that first rooftop apercu that ushered them 
to shame and the anguish of a lifeless infant 
haunting them from a distance evermore.
With bare hands he anoints her body 
vigorously, as if laving the grime of sin; 
naked and oiled, she witnesses his seethe
and with hymeneal ease takes his hand 
so that in unison they submerge in water 
waist-high and warm, made warmer still 
as they desperately entwine and swive, 
fingertips on shoulders, lips on paps, 
gasping and wiping away the other’s tears 
into the water that cleanses and purifies 
ritually, renewing them, they crave,
for years and yearnings still to come.

Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 300 publications in 30 countries.

You may also like

Back to Top