by Rosalind Kaliden

— after "Judith Beheading Holofernes"
Artemisia Gentileschi, c. 1620
Judith and her slave hike to the enemy camp,
Abra’s arms full of the water jugs
and a food basket on her head.
They smile at the camp guards;
Judith talks to the captain, pours him water,
watches him look over her ankles.

At night, she serves Holofernes the food
to complement his wine.
He grabs her knees,
where the children in her village sit.
She imagines them on her lap
as he falls asleep.

She slips the sword from its sheath
and Abra grabs his wrists.
The blood from his neck shoots on the sheets,
runs down the side of the bed;
the head, its hair in her hand, hangs above the body.

Abra wraps the head in the sheet,
puts the sheet in the basket,
the basket on her head.

Rosalind Kaliden’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming
in Caterpillar (Ireland), Dappled Things, The MacGuffin,
Valparaiso Poetry Review, Moon City Review, The Hollins Critic,
and Quiet Lunch. Her poetry and essay were included in the
anthology The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press).
In 2016 she published her first chapbook, Arriving Sideways
(John Gosslee Books). She is working on a memoir, Five Point
Storm, and her chapbook of ekphrastic poetry will launch in
March 2018.