The Syrophoenician Woman

By MARIAM WILLIAMS

And I remember the first slap that followed the slur, how soft
were the fingertips, so slick with oil and sweat the burning mark
seemed to reassure both ‘Know your place’ and ‘This, too, shall pass.’

And I remember my daughter’s night thrashing in morning
for a fortnight now, rooster’s call never signaling mercy.
How demons use her eight-year-old hands to pluck
the hair from her head in clumps, how she feeds the possessed
shredded curls to rats.

He who is without sin cannot call me a dog
and mean it, so Master, use me for your lesson. Slay
me with the hate of your people. I will play the role,
stay bowed at your feet, breathing their unearthly dust
as I say, ‘But even the dogs eat the crumbs
that fall from their master’s table.’

And I remember my daughter’s kicking in my womb,
first suckle like new lover’s tongue, first smile
my salvation.

And my faith is great.

 

MARIAM WILLIAMS is a Kentucky writer living in Philadelphia. She recently completed her MFA in creative writing and a certificate in public history from Rutgers University-Camden. Her poetry has been published in Ninth Letter, The Feminist Wire, Cosmonauts Avenue, and bozalta. Mariam is currently working on a chapbook that retells stories of silenced and condemned women of the Bible, and on a memoir that explores intersections of faith, family, and feminism in her life. 

Purchase Issue 14 here.

The Syrophoenician Woman

Related Posts

view of valley from mountain

August 2022 Poetry Feature: Nathan McClain—from PREVIOUSLY OWNED

NATHAN MCCLAIN
Had I not chosen to live there— / among the oaks and birches, / trees I’d only ever seen in poems / until then…spruce, pine, / among the jack-in-the-pulpit / (though I much preferred “lady slipper”) / the tiger lily, milkweed, the chickadee / and blue jay, even the pesky squirrel

Park Bench

Translation: Poems by Juan de Dios García

JUAN DE DIOS GARCÍA
He speaks to us of Finnish lakes, of a dialect populated by birds and fruit, of high wooded hills, perpetual snow, a petroleum sky. “In the north they’re raised on melancholy,” he says, “and their dead weigh more than those from here.” He speaks of a Greek father and a war.

car crash

July 2022 Poetry Feature

ZACK STRAIT
Like two passengers / in a wrecked automobile: // our eyes are fixed / on the sonogram screen— // an upside-down window / with no wiper blade // to sweep away the rain— / as the technician // inserts a long probe / and whispers, Come on. // Come on. The storm / approaches slow...