David Comes Home

David, I don’t know how to say this,

but I didn’t think you’d make it.

 

For I have met this particular Goliath,

naked in the shuckling pews of wheat.

 

And in his shadow, I have seen

the rubble of other kings,

 

cudgeled and rotted and stacked so high

they cast a shadow of their own.

 

David, you are king, with a lyre and a sling.

 

But you are also a foal,

lacquered in your mother’s blood,

quavering to stand upon this alien loam.

 

You are king, you are kind,

you are true in song and violence.

 

But you are bodiced by a body

and the body is the part that errs.

 

David, forgive me, but I mourned you

in your absence.

 

For I have been to the Valley of Elah.

 

I have plucked those ticks and burs

from the thongs of my sandals.

 

And I’m not always sure

I made it back myself.

 

But David, my king, even if

we’re haunting the same mirage,

 

Raise that bloody bust colossal.

Raise it like a cello bow.

 

Make us see its sun-dried eyes,

its dangling beard of gore.

 

You are brave, you are fair,

and I’d follow you anywhere.

 

To the hilts of other champions,

however cruel and towering.

 

To the crumbling garrets

of temples besieged.

 

I would follow you in vengeance

and I’d follow you in song.

 

To whichever home you claim as yours

when the warring finds it loves you.

This poem was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of Narrative.