SHE REMEMBERS THE WEDDING OF SAMSON AND HER SISTER
By William Kelley Woolfitt
From my hiding spot, what I saw of him
was as I thought the lion dying and torn,
or the bees—flitting from the carcass’s
dark cave—might see, buzzing with the mad
desire to make honey, replenish the stores
he emptied to bring combs to my older sister,
sweet and glistening, in the bowl of his hands.
What I saw, my sister would grease on the seventh
day of their wedding feast: feet of the destroyer
and judge, her groom, who yielded to the siege
of her tears, parleys, and cajolements,
unlocked for her the secret of his riddle.
Feet she would wash, pamper, and oil; feet pale
and blue-tinged as a ewe’s cloudy milk.
I heard in the clamor of his footsteps
and did not believe the convulsing of pillars
that was to come, the crack of flame.
(Today’s poem originally appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal and appears here today with permission from the poet.)
William Kelley Woolfitt teaches creative writing and literature at Lee University. He has worked as a summer camp counselor, bookseller, ballpark peanuts vendor, and teacher of computer literacy to senior citizens. His writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Cincinnati Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, Shenandoah, Los Angeles Review, Sycamore Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review.
Editor’s Note: Today’s poem engages in the ancient tradition of midrash, of questioning and interpreting what is written in the Hebrew Bible. This piece explores the biblical story of Samson, that fierce Jewish warrior who was brought to his knees by love and who went on to destroy his enemies, bringing down their temple with his bare hands. Kelley Woolfitt re-imagines Samson as a husband, using that template to foreshadow a volatile marriage. This Samson is a man who will bring his bride honey combs fresh from the hive in the cups of his hands on his wedding day, but who will later bring about “the convulsing of pillars” and the ominous “crack of flame.”