. Song of the Wailing Women Her spirit has gone forth. Return her to the earth, Released from work and words; In death she is the Lord’s. Did Adam bury Eve? Leave Abraham to grieve The wife no longer his. He buys a field that is The plot of holy land First owned as his wise hand Weighs out in silver money The price of milk and honey For tribes yet in time’s womb. In their ancestral tomb Is faithful Sarah laid, By bier and dirge conveyed. Her lovely body asks For tears, heart-stricken tasks Of nature’s abject grief. Today’s farewell is brief Though most exquisite care Is called for by her fair Remembrance and repose. Mother, what keener woes Than comb and veil your hair! Forlorn, we join in prayer To honor your life’s essence; You honor our due presence. Princess, your promised son, Isaac, will welcome one By covenant decreed, The sempiternal seed Who speaks to every need For children, land, or peace, Of sufferings to cease. We wail for mourners dumb, A son and husband numb, And all our household band. The oaks of Mamre stand Nearby, extending roots To clasp the cave while flutes And visitors depart This chamber still and dark. Putrescence in the place Helps flesh decay apace. Forgotten by their kin The dead no notice win Except when fresh lament Supplies the monument With conscious company And pious psalmody. The matriarch here rests, A corpse with no more quests Or laughter, sense, or soul, Her person in control Of one in whom to trust As bodies turn to dust. Let reverent manly groans Together with soft moans Storm forth in sorrow’s blast From this day’s dismal fast. The cup of comfort given As hushed and hueless heaven Reveals its starry host, Betokens that her ghost By angels led away Moves freed from its dear clay. Rare riches for the dead Are not grave goods but bread The seraphim consume Beyond this anteroom Where bones are kept to dry In hope to purify Remains of guilt until Most precious blood can spill Thereon and make them live New life our God can give. . Poet's Note: In Genesis 23, the patriarch Abraham buys a field with a cave for his wife’s burial. This is the nomad’s first acquisition of land promised his descendants by God. God also made the far-reaching promise, “In thee shall all the kindred of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Genesis 17:19 states that this chief promise is to be fulfilled through Isaac, long-awaited son of the elderly Sarah (a name meaning “princess”). With Isaac’s seed, God will establish a perpetual covenant, unlimited by time. . . Margaret Coats lives in California. She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University. She has retired from a career of teaching literature, languages, and writing that included considerable work in homeschooling for her own family and others.