Poems & Essays

18 Dec

Rachel’s Lament

Babyhood No Response

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children.” (Matthew 2:18)

Morning came early that day, gave me extra moments with you. Low voices and a donkey’s chuffing woke me before the rooster crowed, so I watched you sleep until dawn mottled the walls and sunbeams played peekaboo on the floor. Your mischievous morning smile promised you’d keep me busy that day.

I nursed you, changed you, kissed your pudgy cheeks as butterfly lashes tickled my nose. “Amma!” you giggled and toddled to the window. “Up. Up!” Insistent, arms raised high. I lifted you to see the busy street, then opened the door to let out the night air and welcome the morning.

If only I had left it closed, there might have been more warning.

A fresh breeze ruffled dark curls as you settled down to play in the dirt. Two-year molars pushed against sore gums, so you gnawed on a dried fig; its orange-brown juice bubbled at the corners of your mouth, ran down your chin. As I set down my mending to get you another, I scowled at the column riding in. But my silent curse turned to laughter at your gleeful claps, your raucous rocking as you pointed at Roman ponies you longed to pet.

A joy-filled whinny died as it passed your lips. The muffled sound and protruding spear tip were simultaneous, and the legionnaires moved to the next door without so much as a glance at you, at me, at the rest of Ramah’s mothers while our sons were slaughtered. How? Can we ever be comforted?

One Bethlehem boy escaped that day of death, only to face another. His mother’s mourning fled stealthily to Egypt, but grief delayed is still grief.

So he grew to manhood, the same age my boy would be. I met him once, heard him teach the impossible: “Love your enemies.” I don’t see how I can.

I watched from shadows the day he faced another, crueler death. I heard him plead, “Forgive them” as nails bit flesh and sinew, felt satisfaction as he and his mother drank the bitter cup. But when the blade that stole my baby son pierced his lifeless side, my own heart was again run through. I wailed and mourned and refused to be comforted.

I, Rachel, sought his mother, Mary, and we two wept together,

Ramah’s daughters lamenting for our children.

 

 

Amy Nemecek lives in northern Michigan with her husband, son, and two cats. Her work has appeared in The WindhoverSnapdragon, The 3288 Review, Ancient Paths, Topology, and Indiana Voice Journal. When Amy isn’t working with words, she enjoys long walks along country roads.

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