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Wicked Woman Weeping

Jill Alexander Essbaum

Jesus, the demons are seeking me out.
So I beg it: put your mouth to my mouth
and your eye upon my rickety lip,
trembling to the harrow.  I will hardship
through the night, urgent as an animal
if I have to, but the outlook’s dismal
and since it’s neither new moon nor Sabbath,
I haven’t really any claim.  But with
or without you, the devil shall come on.
From the bottom of this glass of bourbon,
shaky in my grasp, to the topmost two
buttons of my doubtful red dress, askew,
and someone comes to tempt me with his fresh,
delicious fruit, full, wet and ripe.  You blush?
For the Jews, you became the Jew whose grave
didn’t keep him.  To the weak you became
the very weakness which gathered them up.
Who will you be for me?  Something hyssop,
something myrrh?  Christ of the Shunammite’s grief,
relieve me of this dirge.  I shall not sing
it anymore.  You know the words, the tune. 
Fling down what mercies you can spare, and soon. 
Should I survive this furnace I’ll be safe
tonight, and yours, all yours, a pretty thief
stealing but a crust of your kindly bread.
Then, I will mission my sins, maidenheads
and martyrs, like a city at your door.
Your eye is on the sparrow and the whore.

Jill Alexander Essbaum

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