Young Woman, Expecting

by Don Narkevic

Empty, the clay pot I use
to soak my menstrual cloths
and none drying on the flat roof 
of our house. Family sees
the absence. Everyone knows:
Ima, aunts, cousins. Even Aba 
cannot talk over the women 
serving food, although I hear:
embarrassment, disgrace, shame.

At the wash-trough the buzz
of bees ceases when I arrive,
eyes darting about, landing
for a moment on my belly
that my sash no longer hides.
Will the villagers of Nazareth
treat my child as illegitimate,
or will they say, Rise, child, 
bright and morning sun?

As Ima uses the gutting knife
to cut my dusty toenails,
I embroider a home-spun 
winter-wool tunic for Aba,
and she mentions the young man
changed his mind,
shortened the betrothal period,
the dowry: a donkey, silver, myrrh.
After harvest, he will marry me.

Don Narkevic: Buckhannon, WV. MFA National University. Current work appears in Literary YardAriel Chart, and The Lake. In Spring 2022, Main Street Rag will publish a novella of poetry entitled, After the Lynching.  

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