Rachel – a poem by Julie L. Moore

A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. ~Matthew 2:18

My cries climb out of my grave
like Abel’s blood shouted from the ground.  
My sons are no more, their innocent skin 
pierced by soldiers’ swords, their hearts 
run through by Herod. I will not 
be silenced. There is no grief like mine. 
I was a shepherd once. 
I know what it’s like to keep watch,
to chase after one who wanders astray, 
lift it from a ravine while all my muscles
scream. I wanted to save them all.
I know my flock’s thirst, how the arid heat 
thickens on the tongue and strips 
air from the lungs. In a moment like that, 
I met my beloved. He rolled the stone away
from the mouth of the well. He kissed me 
and I wept the first of many times. 
You know how the story goes.
I sobbed again when my scions passed 
my tomb on the road to Babylon. 
Do not wipe my tears away now.
Let them come violent as a peg
driving through an enemy’s head.  
Let them keen over YHWH’s fierce will,
for I cannot raise the dead. 
My own bones merge with earth.
This otherworldly bosom cages me in. 
I am every mother in Bethlehem
who knows what these men don’t. 
Hear me howl. 

A Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Book of the Year Award. She has also had poetry appear in African American ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. Moore is the Writing Center Director at Taylor University in Indiana, where she is the poetry editor for Relief Journal. Learn more about her work at julielmoore.com.

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