For two decades I have taught literature, film, and comics in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I’ve been writing poetry in earnest since 2011, mostly in traditional forms. The play of English phrasing and syntax across a sturdy pentameter framework is, for me, one of life’s great pleasures. Others include dinner parties, foreign films, strong coffee, and dancing—and walking the dog with my husband, Geoff. Journals in which my poems have appeared include The Lyric, Measure, and Unsplendid.
A Passover Supper
His mother let him choose the yearling lamb.
Standing in line, waiting for Temple priests
to perform the sacrifice, his head swam
with spooling blood and clumps of matted fleece.
They dragged it home. He watched her drive a stave
across its shoulders, skewer down the spine
to hold it steady over fire—and then lave
the naked loin and ribs in a roasting brine.
Before the meal, his father told again
the story of Passover: how God spares
the chosen, how all Egypt is condemned.
He ate hastily, blinking back tears
which welled up from an unfamiliar tension.
A rush of kindness—mixed with apprehension.
How He Came to Speak in Parables
The first time was a whim. Growing annoyed
at his repeated failure to get through,
he scanned his listless audience, and toyed
with likening the unknown to what they knew:
a brother’s envy, taxes, mustard seed,
the way one ploughs a field or tends a herd.
Watching their rapt expressions, he perceived
how spirits, through the senses, could be stirred.
Their careworn lives made vivid, people yearned
to grasp the truth behind a homespun scene.
His teaching until now had been unleavened
by that essential germ. He quickly learned
from all the eager talk of what things mean,
how ample mystery was—like bread from heaven.
©2017 David Southward
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