Matthew Pullar is one of the best poets of his generation. This poem is one of my top favorites of all he has written. Please be sure to thank him for this excellent work. Then go back and read about David’s capture of Bathsheba in the Old Testament.

The Consolations of Writing

“Bathsheba Mourns her Husband” by James Tissot (Flickr)

Viewed from the voyeur's vantage,
she is only ever Other,
breasts bared or barely draped in dampness,
bathing or emerging from waters,
eyes come-hithering,
sometimes her whole body issuing its
dubious invitation.
No doubt David saw her this way,
eyes surveying the rooftops for all he called his own,
the private and holy ritual she performed
the only thin excuse his lust required.

Only Tissot has her clothed,
prostrate, grieving
the expendable Uriah, the second
in a three-stranded cord of griefs:
her body first, then husband, then son.
Had she known how history would blame her,
conflate her name with "Seductress",
she'd have grieved longer,
lain on the floor until
her swelling belly, the violator king's
bursting offspring, allowed it no longer.
At least Tissot gives her this dignity, letting her grieve
without end, without her body made
a vessel of desire.

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