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. 

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The Syrophoenician Woman

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