To Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith

You wince at resistance

Of sword in flesh.

Your hands blush red

as your sleeves, as your cheeks,

As his blood.

Women’s work is this,

Midwives of death,

With breasts white as bone.

What did he say when you set your bread basket at the throne, when you rolled up your sleeves?

Women’s work it was, that’s all. Bread and breast

for the taking, both white as snow.

Your brow narrows

As you slice away the canker, the dictator, the male/factor, what else do you lose?

Golden woman with the double chin, you shed ambivalence.

You shed youth.

You shed summer.

You shed hot hands and breath in the desert shadows.

Walk into your golden years, bear that breadbasket of gore to your people.

The bleached skull white as clouds whispers:

The women’s work is done.

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