On the marbled floor, perhaps a mosaic, the tree
Spreading branches like burgeoning humanity,
Both women collapse, their hands beseech,
Their eyes wet with tears; they each tell their story,
Call for Solomon the Wise to grant them leave to claim
The squalling child as their very own son (and that babe,
Innocent of crime, did he have a sense of calamity?).
In that crowded chamber, how the onlookers
Must have studied the two? Did they place bets;
Did a voice cry out as if a new tabloid was being sold?
Were there conjectures made; whispers behind hands;
Judgements on each woman’s performance?
How many of those onlookers
Would have made a decision and moved on
to the next judgement? And if they
Looked closely into the shadows of the room
Did they see an angel shimmer, could they
Have heard the breath of God, have seen Him
Silently stride through the congregation
And into Solomon’s mind; releasing logic
And in Time, to set their King aside
From the horde of cast-off declarations?
Was Solomon’s God his innermost voice
Eternally extolling him to make the ethical choice
Regardless of how he must look to the outsider’s eyes?
And how did Solomon the Wise look
In those moments when he gave his decision?
Did the crowd gasp? Did they cover their eyes and weep?
Did they clench their fists and consider a revolution? Or worse,
Did men feel their loins stirring; knowing some other male’s child
Would soon be severed in two? Did the many beasts
In that room win out over Solomon’s emerging civilization?
And in the aftermath, as the mother gave up her child
And so gained the highest ground —
Leading to the saying that love conquers all—
Did men then feel that shudder of missed opportunity,
Of limp disappointment at no bloodshed,
Or horror at each other’s (and so their own)
Hunger for the child to be slain upon that marbled floor.
And Solomon, alone that night,
Did he weep for mankind’s future?
Did he realize that the beast is tattooed
In secret, in the soul of every child, so that each of us
Thirst for blood, seek the darkness not the light,
Shiver with delight when harm visits
Neighbor and foe alike?