Today's poem is by Jean Nordhaus

When she saw the angel
        —Numbers 22-24

in their path, she balked, a little jenny
with dusty brown fur. Lashed,
she slewed sideways, crushing Balaam's leg

against a wall. Lashed again,
she lay down and refused to budge—
obstinacy unsurprising in her kind

yet a woman's voice from the throat
of an ass gave pause: What have I done
to deserve this? she cried, and Balaam,

startled at the sound, looked up
at last and saw—the flash
of gold in the tamarisks,

dove-like flurry of wings. Here
all mention of the jenny ends.
Balaam rides on to Moab and she

drops from view, her word-horde
squandered in a single dithyramb—
though surely, shaking the dust

from her coat, she must
have trotted on under history's
buttocks, visited by whims and vapors,

digging in her heels from time to time.

Copyright © 2012 Jean Nordhaus All rights reserved
from The Carolina Quarterly
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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