Jaclyn Goddette

Jezebel

1.

I came from the sea where the water lapped
like a heart against the shore. Across white waves
rolled trading ships. Their massive sails rose and fell
with each gentle rock. Gum trees bowed in salty winds.
Motion flows through my blithe hips.

Your land is a dry throat howling for my home.
Under the torpid sun kneel scrub brush, lodged in the
ground by their thirst. Rust-colored rocks litter cracked
earth. My feet, blistering, kick up a cloud of dust
—I choke on the dirt.
2.

Fish scales, tucked in woven baskets, glistened next to
spices; stacked pyramids of saffron and sumac.
Perfumes tickled noses. Thrumming with life,
the bazaar's complexions:
         dark Egypt, olive Arabia, light Crete
all cloaked in mauve robes.

Here, Yahweh's cedar temple must not stand
near Baal's. I light incenses. The smell of resin,
burning sharp, clings to draping curtain's cloth.
Sunbeams filter past smoke and glass; clay tablets
brighten soaked in light.

In our temples lie ancient etchings: Baal,
bestial head and smoky eyes, ends famines
with lightning bolts in his godly grip. Plump
raindrops splatter on soil grown arid with
overuse. Crops rise like the eastern sun.

Outside, sediment stills and murky water
evaporates. Only patches of grass remain—
wispy strands of hair on a balding earth.
Your mules' taut skin stretches over their ribs;
vertebrae jut out like headstones.
3.

The oxen were halved on wood.
Crimson liquid, staining the altar, dribbled
into the ground. A seeping stickiness matted fur.
Beady eyes opened wide, dim and unblinking.
The scent of copper filled the air.

As we danced, our robes billowed. The glint
of our piercing knives blinded your stare. Gorging
themselves on rancid meat, a plague of flies swarmed
the bloating carcasses. They blotted our view.
Baal, you claimed, had ignored the prayer.

You summoned Yahweh and the mountain rumbled
with laughter. Lightning ruptured the bulls; fragments
caught on fire. From their eyes leapt flames—torching
the altar and rocks while licking water dry.
You prostrated on scorched soil.

My people were herded like sheep to the Kishon
stream. You mixed our blood with the river. Here,
bodies, left sprawled and bent, mouths in mid-scream,
withered to dust. Far off a pregnant cloud loomed;
the sky darkened and the wind blew.

4.

If you are Elijah, so I am Jezebel.

5.

Curtains rustle in my ivory palace. I brush
my eyes with kohl and preen my thick, dark
hair: war paint that befits a queen. Perched
on the balcony, my long legs dangle as I wait.
My chest rises with each breath.

Your men's clamor is a rolling storm.
It crescendos with the shouts and footsteps
of an angry crowd wedging into a vibrating
house. I am jostled out, the fall numbing
my limbs. When I hit the ground, I shatter.

Blood splatters across the coats of horses;
chariot wheels pummel flesh into the ground.
Strips of skin scatter in the wind as stray dogs gnaw on bones.