. Salome's Soliloquy John the Baptist rebuked Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, for an incestuous and adulterous union with his brother’s wife, Herodias. Herodias therefore wished to kill John, and found an opportunity when her daughter Salome performed a lascivious dance at Herod’s birthday feast. Herod swore to give the girl anything up to half his kingdom, and Herodias told Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The execution was carried out, and John’s head presented to Salome. My fingers pulse and throb to stroke his head— A sick attraction. I don’t love him dead, One man who’s less than God yet more than good, And I? A wench cut off from womanhood. Vile Herod sniggers like he’s bought me while My mother (not his wife) aches to defile The cherished head of John now held by me In agony. O wretched blasphemy Of seven veils danced off to satisfy Deranged delusions unattainable! I listened to these lechers grunt and cry; I saw them stimulate unrisen dough For nothing but my sultry picture show. I know this court. It has no heart, but pants For woman, demon, girl, beast, man or boy, And soon frustrated, needs another toy. In fantasy the fools believe they own me; I swirl away, and none has ever known me. A marriage? Only John knew what it meant: A man and woman joined by free consent. Love’s not for sale, but spends the sum of life In giving self to one so much unlike And complementary as he and I, His courage resolute, my charm alluring. These others were perverted while maturing; They ban and butcher innocence; their law Divorces man from wife for any flaw. They’d have me as a plaything, tool, and slave, Expose my child to die for taunts I gave Unnatural, guilt-ridden will and pleasure Enshrined as human law and custom’s measure. John prophesied: his awe-inspiring lips Foretelling rightful love’s apocalypse To me, but Mother could manipulate Her child and partner lewd to castrate fate. She’s severed every hope, left me no grace To live for in this sex-polluted place. . apocalypse: unveiling or revelation . . 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.