The picture, I remember from a book
my mother gave me when I was just a child,
tried to draw the reader’s eye to the shock of black hair
and the way it had willfully managed
to tangle itself into the low hanging branch of a tree
as his mule moved forward and behind his enemies
drew close and Absalom was lifted up away from his saddle
to dangle and wait for the killing blow.
What I recall all these years later was the distress
on Absalom’s face as he realized that hope
could be snatched away by the thing he loved most.
David wept at the news – and isn’t that just the way of a father
and son, that when the boy is gone, the father remembers
what once was, the smell of his scalp, the feel of his hand,
the way he looked at you as if you were a living God?
and now David is alone with the chronic sadness
at the death, Absalom’s wrongs forgotten, the bitter words
lost, the anger a breeze that now chill’s the heart
leaving behind only the emptiness where once Absalom, David’s son -
and all those that would follow him - had dwelt.