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

Boxer mid-punch

August 2020 Poetry Feature: Raisa Tolchinsky

RAISA TOLCHINSKY
These poems are a way of writing into the imagined life where I became a boxer instead of a poet & scholar. Through this work I am also asking: how does the poem function as a body? How does the page function as a ring? 

Photo of Wachtel and Polonskaya

Anzhelina Polonskaya: Russian Poetry in Translation

ANZHELINA POLONSKAYA
O rose of ash, / you enter from worlds of mourning, / into bright sadness, / and no one can rip out your thorns. / The convoy never sleeps! – enveloped by silence / the night before the execution. / But a song wafts from somewhere far away, / the festivities continue.

july 2020 poetry feature

July 2020 Poetry Feature: Steven Leyva and Elizabeth Scanlon

STEVEN LEYVA
Get down to the smallest birthright / I cannot claim: say beignets / and doesn’t the stutter of hot oil start / to sizzle the small plates of memory? / Faces powdered with sugar, no thought / to whose ancestors cut which cane, sing / a hymn of “mmm, mmm, mmm.”