The silencing of women’s voices and appropriation of their bodies is not new. These poems look for dignity in the silences of Dinah and Batsheva and ask readers to imagine the part of their experiences which has been lost to us.
this alteration of a dream,
to seize Dinah,
Before her father heard and her brothers echoed,
Who took her without words before,
Jacob’s sons reasoned
In the nerveless refuge of revenge.
How shall we deal with our sister?
We have seams of earth,
flocks, water, and swords.
She holds nothing but a man’s eye.
Silent, when he found her,
She had words before,
delivered to other daughters,
when she could still speak.
Dinah’s brothers hauled their pain
and silenced the city.
Jacob wrestled and learned who he was,
but Dinah was gone.
She could feel the sun
and the dust lifting
from the stones on the roof
spelling words of war.
From her window
she watched the Law
carried like an ageing father
too tired to remember his sons.
Batsheva’s eyes were half closed.
She saw promises of cornered fields,
nights saved by water.
On this day she was alone.
There was no one in the city,
as she drew inside the picture
of a woman bathing,
turning her waist in the king’s tent.
Image of painting “Bathsheba at Bath” by Paolo Veronese via Wikimedia