• Lane Welkin

Of Foxes and Tenants

My tongue has been cut out. The sweetness of faith evades me and memories of milk and honey fade.

I was a daughter of the vineyard. I let love sleep. My brothers bolted shut the door and I kept the foxes from jumping the fence. The vineyard grew and the fruit ripened.  The wine was sweet and laughter flowed freely.

But a cold front moved in and soon the vineyard and the virgins looked stale in the gray of winter. The brothers abandoned wine and took to barley and hops which they grew beyond the borders. Here they were touched by the Baals and bitten by wolves. Their beards fell thin and whiskers grew. When the sun went down the workers of the vineyard walked on four legs. They scoured the rivers where the women bathed. They scanned the rooftops of neighbors and hunted foreigners who gathered wheat at the field's edge.

The owner of the vineyard sent his servant. The servant's anger burned at the tenants but they outnumbered him and he fell by the sword. The nights grew longer and the men's will grew strong. A few more servants, the landowner sent. They killed them all.

One last try, he sent his son. He was certain they would respect his heir. They killed the man. This time with claws and rabid teeth.  

This death marked a new era. Daughters were thrown over the fence, mothers pushed out of the gate, and sisters forgotten. Together we faced the wild.

Dispersion was inevitable and the nations took us in.  I met a soldier and joined his harem. The wine is fine and my friends, kind. My sister found a home with the Baals and my mother roams the streets. Still many others lay in the sand—never buried and with only foxes and vultures to visit.

Each month the women spend a week at the river to avoid the city and hide our uncleanliness. We teach our children the Law and Promises of God. We tell stories of ancestral heroes and times of peace and feasting. But when evening falls and the women gather at the fire there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Oh, and what of the tenants and the vineyard? The landlord swore vengeance and soon after, he laid siege. With a pot of gas and a single torch, he set a fire. The crops and the tenants, they burned and though many Holy Days have passed, smoke still rises.