A Homeless Woman In Ancient Jerusalem

by Susan E. Wagner

I

She mumbles and mutters,
The smell of dirt and filth
Cover her more than
Those thin clothes.
It is indecent.

A smell of rot flows from
Her mouth, her teeth
Broken and stained. 
Do you hear her?
She prays, day in, day
Out, and each evening.

Why would Yahweh listen 
To such a one?


II

Thank you, Father,
For that tasty bit of fig
Dropped right before me
When that highborn girl
Passed by.
Bless her for me, dear 
Lord. She could have 
Kicked me and did not.

And see sweet Miriam 
Over there, Lord? She
Is always sick with this 
New babe she carries.
Bless her, please, and
I think a daughter would
Would be most welcomed 
This time, if it is your will.



III

“Jacob, stay away from her.
She is dirty.” 

“Oh, yes, I am. Yes, I am.”

“Give her this.”

“Thank you, kind lady.
May Yahweh bless you.”

“Hurry, Jacob.”

“Bless you. Bless you.”


IV

It is cold here tonight.
Lord, why must it be
So cold?
Who can rest in this?
Well, your dirt keeps me
Warm – Oh, Lord!
There is plenty of that on me!
Yes, yes, there is. 
My thanks for that.

Susan E. Wagner‘s book, Unmuted: Voices on the Edge, is a hybrid collection on mental illness and families. She has taught professional and creative writing in mental health settings and adult community classes. She recently retired as an editor at the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center in Perkasie, PA.

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