They laughed when I said I was saving up
for a wife, each month a shekel closer.
The say no woman will have me, herder
of goats not my own, scarred by fire,
by hunger, but still I save my shekels
for that black-haired young one who wanders
the fields of rye that grow along the creek
where the goats seek shade, where I go to look
at her. I am ten shekels short now,
and I will wait until I can buy
a ram and three ewes to start my own
flock. A man must have his wedding bed
arrayed for his bride. Fifty shekels buys
her from her father, once I’ve had her.
He cannot deny me. She can never leave.
BRIAN SPEARS is Poetry Editor of The Rumpus and author of A Witness in Exile (Louisiana Literature Press 2011). He currently lives in Des Moines with his wife, the writer/artist Amy Letter, his 3 daughters and 4 cats. He currently teaches creative writing and literature at Drake University. The above poem is from a series entitled Sex Crimes of the Old Testament.
Curatorial note: The following poems are a response to a call for poetry about rape culture for the annual Delirious Advent Feature; the call is in turn an immediate response to the Rolling Stone story “A Rape on Campus” about rape culture at the University of Virginia. However, they are also part of a larger conversation about rape in poetry communities. Curated by Jessica Smith and Susana Gardner.