Authors and Poets
Authors and Poets

Photos used with permission from the Academy of American Poets

Last updated:
September 5, 2018
Lori M. Cameron, editor

Esther’s Eunuch – Pat Durmon

The girl-woman had not yet lived away from home,
away from her uncle’s care. Eyes downcast, she is now
under my custody: I, Hegai, am head eunuch and left in charge
of the beautiful women belonging to the king—all young,
all lovely, all unplucked.
Images shift and thin about the others, but this beauty slept
peacefully after one short cry. That first night, I saw her head
bow low to acquiesce, then she prostrated herself on the floor
where she seemed to surrender to her god. An elegant one—
submissive, with a crazy faith. And yet, a rare ruby.
Looking back, I recall no words of parting between her
and Mordecai, the strangest Jew I ever knew.
Within ten days Esther showed me scrolls
of cotton clouds as if someone put them there to console her alone.
Spellbound, I favor her. To this day the other virgins stay close
to grief and smile downhill, but this one hums and thrills to play
with oils, spices and beauty treatments as if a perfect face needs
any trace of grace. It will be my pleasure to provide her
with choice maids, fruits and myself as protector. The best place
in the harem awaits her.
I know my king. I know beauty
inside-out, upside-down. She is my pick—the only one I wish
to rule over me. And this king listens to his queen. Only to Esther
will I give advice when it comes her turn to visit the king
in the tenth month. Only Esther will not request anything
from the king except what I suggest.
And now
I bow to thank my gods for not making me a father, not making me
stupid, not making me a Jew. The sun then dips and spouts
a furious fountain of fire into the night sky.

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