His knowing shifted when he saw her turn”

when with the cautious sliding of his eye

he caught the fatal movement . . . silent lifting

. . . slight, and slow, and strangely automated

turning of that proud, familiar chin

toward home.

She had never thought to question.

As he asked, shed fixed the sudden guests

a feast. Shed baked the bread and brought the men

their wine and kept her silence as they made

their plans.

Perhaps he should have told her more

or held her for a moment as he said,

"Its time to go. Collect the girls and don't

look back." If only he had told her then

what he knew now: that there was nothing like

the steady comfort of her dusky flesh.

If he had given her just time enough

to say goodbye a womans way; to pray

with her instead of simply passing on

Gods man-to-man demand . . . she might have

made it through without that nagging need

to look once more, that lovely human gesture

of regret that left two fragile, willful

daughters motherless and him with only

this white trophy mocking his obedience.