A Father with his Daughter Thus


Jephthah’s Daughter


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Jephthah’s Daughter

By James Vasquez

I wanted naught for brother or
For sister yet to fill our home,
‘Twas all I cared when father came,
And ceased some far off land to roam.

I lived alone with father and
In truth, we had no further need,
Nor felt we lacked of anything
That we might ever wish or heed.

We had each other, God had willed
A father with his daughter thus.
Our home was known for glad accord,
And many surely envied us.

Commander of a host of men,
He’d gone the Ammonites to fight,
While I awaited, hopefully,
For his appearance day and night.

And oft I’d flung myself at him,
To greet him, joyful and with tears,
Nor can one know the grave concern
His absence caused me, or the fears.

Then word arrived, he’d come at last!
I quickly readied self and place,
And when I heard the hoof beats stop,
I longed to be in his embrace.

With ringing tambourine and clap
Of castanet I danced my way,
To him who came, a victor sure,
All my respects to warmly pay.

But then the look I saw upon
His pallid face, within his eyes,
Bespoke a sense of horror he knew,
That understanding e’er defies.

He screamed a scream I’d never heard,
My name he cried to heaven high,
Some thing or person brought his pain,
And soon I learned that it was I.

Sweet maidens, come, join with me now,
A rose’s fragrance to inhale,
This lasting memory let me take,
That our good friendship might avail.

Mourn quietly, my friends, your loss,
That on this day we yet may know
Some pleasure or peculiar grace
A smiling fortune may bestow.

Now lightly tread this upward path
That we may look afar from high,
And scan soft fields where once we played,
Where soon my body, still, shall lie.

Ah! My virginity remains,
For this your mourning render now,
A man I shall not know or love,
Nor he my kiss upon the brow.

‘Twas father’s vow when he went forth,
A sacrifice he’d offer up,
To celebrate a vict’ry won,
Ere food he tasted or the cup.

So little had he thought or dreamed
‘Twould be myself, nor beast nor pet,
That first appeared from out the door,
And all his anguished vision met.

But kindly he then granted me
These days, these months for me to mourn,
Before my lissome body lies,
Upon a burning altar, torn.


from the May 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine




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