David and Michal

David the king, my husband, leaped and whirled before the Lord
To Jerusalem he brought the ark and all the people danced
He was got up in a priestly robe; his doting subjects roared
With approval as, half-naked, he gyrated, twirled and pranced.
I saw him through the window; I saw the servant girls,
I saw the king had made himself the object of their gaze
I scorned the gross exposure, the flashing as he whirls,
While the wenches cry ‘God save him, may he live for length of days!’

David the King, my husband, I’m afraid he got me wrong
Yes it’s true I was the daughter of the king who came before
David called me ‘Jewish princess,’ said I’d criticized too long
And regarded him in private as a Bethlehemite boor.
‘God chose me above your father I advise you to recall,’
In that cutting voice of his I know the servants never hear,
‘I sang and played my harp; I was a comforter to Saul,
And I realize you despise me but the slave girls hold me dear.’

The stupid man forgot there was a day I’d saved his life,
He climbed out through my window with Saul’s soldiers in pursuit
I deceived King Saul, my father – I was David’s loyal wife,
I said ‘I think my love is not a matter for dispute.’
‘You mean to say I owe you,’ and his cold stare broke my heart
So I backtracked very quickly and, placatingly I said
‘No, I just want to remind you how I loved you at the start’
And he answered ‘That’s all done: I’ll come no longer to your bed.’

He took more wives, low-born they were, with husbands to despatch
His taste was not for maidens; I, of course, a virgin bride,
Was untouched by man (and royal), as you might say, quite a catch,
I loved him, but he thought me full of arrogance and pride.
Now he is threescore years and ten, and I am waxing old
I hear they found a young girl, Abishag, to warm his bed,
A fairly bold solution, when he mentioned feeling cold,
And ill-advised, considering how quickly rumours spread.

His children mostly let him down and Solomon, they say
Will succeed him. Don’t doubt it: that unholy trinity
Bathsheba, Nathan, Zadok, are sure to get their way
And David’s sons, like Banquo’s, will reign on to infinity.
His exit through my window even now comes to my mind
His perilous descent, yet he looked up to catch my eye,
He mouthed ‘I love you’. Yes! To me! Then I was left behind,
But that’s how I’ll remember him until the day I die.

June 2013

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