Balaam in the stable
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.
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?