Donald Zirilli: “Judith Cut”

In a tent of conquered horsehide
sleeps a man in candle candor,
neck as thick as mooring coils,
dreaming wars that morning beckons.

Woken by his own sword flashing,
blinking at the revelation
of a concubine unfixing
worldly power from his shoulders,
he invades a newfound kingdom,
free from all his vain desiring.

Judith holds his head up for him,
brandishing his eyes as torchlight
searing vision onto darkness
as she flees her triumph, slipping
slyly into fiction, saving
Judah, though the Protestants and
Jews betray it with their bowing
to historical insistence.

What a sad, retiring Bible,
what a testament to tyrants,
fearful of a female rising,
cowed before the truth she topples.

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