Poetry Porch: Poetry


by L. N. Allen

    For twenty years the Israelites had been slaves under Sisera, commander of King Jabin of Canaan’s army. Deborah, the prophetess then judging Israel, told Barak son of Abinoam that the Lord had chosen Barak to free their people from bondage. Barak, accompanied by Deborah, attacked Sisera’s troops. “All the army of Sisera fell by the sword; no one was left” but Sisera, who fled on foot to Jael’s tent, unaware her sympathies lay with the Israelites. Jael killed Sisera. Here only, Jael speaks.            —Adapted from Judges 4-5

He wanted water. I gave him milk, curds
in a lordly bowl. He asked to be hidden.
I gave him rugs, common as hummingbirds.
Weary from battle, he slept.
                                             As if bidden
by heaven, I took tent peg and hammer,
and pummeled that peg through Sisera’s temple
all the way into the ground.
                                             His mother
might mourn him. My people will cheer. It’s simple
Biblical law—an eye for an eye, unless
the good Lord changes His mind. They call me heroine,
not murderess. They say this infernal restlessness
will slip off my soul like an outgrown skin

when Deborah sings, when locks are long in Israel,
when Barak, son of Abinoam, honors my name—Jael.

Copyright © 2015 by L. N. Allen.