Absalom’s Tresses

Your unmatched beauty drives

chariots and men, a teeming throng.

Yet you garrote your own throat

with your barbed tongue.

Your fine face betrayed

                when I told you, “You are the precious

                                last breath

of a drowning man. You are

rocks in my pockets.”

You are

my death.

In your name, this pillar I erect

Many blessings

and love

although you disaffect.

This day, I find you dangled

from an oak tree. Hanging, but not

                a flower

from your Absalom’s tresses, Tangled

in the claw of an unwanted crown, feet dangling

off the ground

John J. Tissot, ‘Absalom’ (1896-1902), gouache on board, The Jewish Museum, New York.

Should I let you spin a compass,

like Huxley’s Savage, before your end

of me?

And when I approach to pierce you

with my sword and arrows, I may

choose yet to set you free.


A poem in progress. Draft 1. 

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