Balaam in the stable

May 2, 2019

These days, though I stuff her manger
     with the softest thistles, fill her trough
           with dawn-clear water, it’s not enough
                 to coax her from her quiet. Tears, anger—
                      both bring forth the same mild stare.
                           Side-eyes from the women at the well
                                 accompany their whispers as they tell
                                      of that mad prophet standing there,
                                           crazier since the time he heard
                                                his donkey also speak.

                                                                                          Unkind,
                                                but not untruthful; once behind
                                           the stable doors, I start the absurd
                                      ritual of begging: Say what you saw
                                 before I saw it, all those years ago.
                           Look! See my foot with one skewed toe,
                      my shin scarred where you scraped it raw
                 against the wall. Speak of God who bound
           and unbound both our tongues; sweet, prove
     I’m not alone.
She shifts her hooves
but otherwise makes no sound.

Is she mute? Or choosing not to talk?