Three Poems: Jezebel, Makeda, Esther

As a woman, I gravitate to the stories of women in the scriptures. Women balance multiple gender roles and identity tensions. Their stories are often hinted at or mentioned in passing. We get glimpses rather than full narratives. Nevertheless, they are there, often unnamed or in the shadows. Unlike many of the other women, these women are named. They are queens who had highly vulnerable political positions.

Lucia Lukas, Queen, 2021. Markers, oil, photographs, acrylic, and fabric on canvas. 81.7 x 107.5 cm. Artist’s collection.

Jezebel (from Her Foreign Majesties)

Reflected in the mirror, I wonder at my crown.
Who placed it there upon my maiden brow?
A princess of Phoenicia, so foreign to this Land
How can I live authentically in this state?

O Jezebel, how came you here?
What will you do?
What have you done?

I did not choose to come here – sold by my tribe for peace…
I come as token gesture – a prize to be displayed
Today I’m claimed as Ahab’s queen, to mother his offspring
My body – chattel of the state – is not for me to own.

O Jezebel, who are you here?
Are you considered human?
Of are you simply of another

Makeda – Queen of Sheba

Love? No – maybe it was more of a curiosity …
A fascination with a legend.
I have had presented chiefs and princes …
The finest warriors and generals,
the richest men with the greatest lands.

I have no need to search,
But my interest has been aroused
by the tales of Wisdom.
What man is really wise?
Is there such a beast?
If so, might he be worthy of my attentions?

These days, I could be bored,
for my wealth is unsurpassed,
My lands are peaceful,
My realm is stable.

What more could a girl ask for?
I seek adventure … to travel to exotic places,
To meet interesting people …
To see this Temple of wonder
Being built for a single God!

Perhaps I will find more than sights to see?
Perhaps I will find a King worthy of a Queen?


Reflected in a mirror, I see my exiled face
Who gave me over to become a wife?
A Queen my Master made me – to people not my own
While mine are slaves and foreign to this place

O Esther, how came you here?
What will you do?
What have you done?

I did not choose to be here – taken from my people – dispossessed …
I am prize of warfare – a prize to be displayed
Today I’m Queen of Persia – but silent is my role
Do I dare disobey the boundaries of my life?

O Esther, who are you here?
Can you be given voice before your King?
Do you have words
from another Lord?


Amelia Koh-Butler is Minister, Eastwood Uniting Church, and is currently living on Wallamategal and Barramattegal Country of the Darug-speaking peoples.

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