Bathsheba – a poem by Rebecca Guess Cantor


I washed myself on the roof,
shrouded by a haze of flowers—
not provocative, just charming
and plain in my nakedness.
You watched as I bent and dipped
my hair in the pool,
built with stones, clouded with green,
the pool that hid more skin
with each step I took.

I moved quietly with you,
surrounded by a sunken bed
and a night thick with heat and spices.
The bed threw our two bodies together—
yours lusting, mine compliant.
A child awoke in me.

When my husband died,
placed before the fight by you,
the man who needed me,
I imagined the death was slow,
that he dug his fingers into the ground
to stave off the pain,
that as the fog covered his eyes
he knew what I’d done.

I mourned dry-eyed,
torturing myself,
not wanting you to see my pain.
You married me quickly
to hide the truth,
long ago bored by my charms.

When the child died,
taken as your lesson,
I stood beneath the sky unprotected,
and raised my voice to a God
I had never dared to face.
I fell to the ground, raking the dirt.
I was left without the husband I needed,
without a child to love,
left with a king
who needed me no longer.


Rebecca Guess Cantor’s first book, Running Away, was published last year by Finishing Line Press and her second book, The Other Half: Poems on Women in the Bible, is forthcoming from White Violet Press. Her poetry has appeared in The Cresset, Mezzo Cammin, Anomaly, Two Words For, Whale Road Review, Anomaly Literary Journal, and The Lyric among other publications. Rebecca is the Assistant Provost at Azusa Pacific University and lives in Fullerton, California.

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