‘The Rape of Tamar,’ comes from the poetry collection ‘The Song of Birds,’ by Emma Hinds, a collection focused on the lives of biblical women. Starting with Eve and ending with Mary the mother of Christ, the poems progress through biblical history, re-telling some of our most familiar biblical stories through the eyes of those women who are often forgotten.
The Rape of Tamar
The head of the bird flops and soars,
Wings baffling against the flying sand and tether.
My brother is the centre of the clock, turning on the orange dirt.
The feathers and claws chase heart and lungs around him:
A deathly dance.
The falcons play with their food;
they toss the mouse into the air and catch it by its soft pink feet.
It shrieks and splutters and I wince.
My brother laughs at their dancing tails.
I approach on my knees across the sand,
I bring Kidney and liver offerings for their haughty beaks.
Their eyes are stones of turmeric, deigning to cast a glance.
That is how he likes me to come to him.
He loves their shivering plumes and draconian feet.
He tilts his mouth to their gnarled toes
with an irreverent tenderness that makes me sick inside.
His eyes are always hungry.
When he kisses me my feathers tremble
with the brutal rage of something caught,
and kept, and wild inside.
But I am tethered,
tethered to my brother dear,
and he has clipped my wings.
I close my eyes as he bears down.
Inside, I take flight.
Image: Eustache Le Sueur, ‘The Rape of Tamar,’ 1640, Metropolitan Museum of Art.