By Nancy Hightower
18 February 2013
Then Jael, Heber's wife, took a nail of the tent, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it to the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
such a muted sound at first
as spike hits skin, then,
the skull's soft crunch.
one would think murder made more noise—
like a battering ram against the temple,
but no, just a simple tent nail
and a cup of milk;
we women have our ways.
had i more time, i would have cooked,
made the bed, washed the dishes—
scheduled in the killing.
but he had come quickly, galloped
himself into my sanctuary,
heaving breath in muffled gasps
and war-weary, as men often are.
i became an eagle, feathers spread,
talons reaching as i flew out to meet him,
and he, thinking i was his dove, his mother hen,
came under my wings, shadow-filled.
i wrapped their warmth around him with
my voice spinning lies, quilted comfort,
my hands tucking in the folds of the blanket
as he slipped into that dream-quenching slumber.
i almost kissed his brow
to drive the pin through.
his mother, far away,
felt the breeze of my hand as it came down,
gentle, a loving breath upon her cheek,
thought her son had come back early in victory,
and opened her arms wide in ready embrace.
when she turned,
her eyes beheld nothing
but red leaves falling
in the morning wind.