Featured Poetry

Carol Barrett – Esther Talks to Her Unborn Child

Poet Carol Barrett’s poem is spoken in the voice of biblical Queen Esther, from the Tanakh or Old Testament Book of Esther. But instead of focusing primarily on this complex figure in Hebrew and biblical lore, Carol’s “Esther Talks to Her Unborn Child” instead brims with hope and prophecy for the daughter slumbering in the warmth of Esther’s womb.

Esther Talks to Her Unborn Child

No longer do bells ring at my feet.
New chimes fill my belly:
tiny fingers that press
their window of truth.
What do you dream in the long
veins of your ancestry,
mother a Jewess, father a king?
Which memory will the blood tell,
which hand reach first my rounded bridge?

Daughter, I touch you
as I smooth my own flesh. Hunger
subsides: you are my honey and apples,
the nectar of my mother’s song.
I watch doves preening their soft
breasts. Oh sweet longing,
these pillowed hours. Already
lullabies drift from my lips
like warm sand, covering sleep.

I will tell you simple things:
how my mother made yogurt,
covered the bowl with a cloth.
I could smell her hair in the bath.
I will say how we followed the river,
how chicory startled the air,
marjoram and thyme. How warm
the stones underfoot, how close
the palace of stars.

Desert princess, child of gold,
you will sing your own story.
The warring of Jew and Persian will stop
on your tongue, the doves reply.
I will close my eyes, mother
of harmony, hold you again
against my hips, watch your small feet
tap at my skin, dancing for both of us.

Carol Barrett

Carol Barrett directs the Creative Writing Certificate Program at Union Institute & University. She has published two books of poetry and one of creative nonfiction. A former NEA fellow in poetry, Carol has lived in nine states and in England.

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