Esther, Part 2
At thirty-five her hair was fine
And cinder black. Nor was there sign
Of aging in her queenly face.
And those who saw the tiny trace
Of tragedy left in her eyes
Compared it to the Persian skies
When storms have purged the gloomy air,
And left the faintest rainbow there.
She gave her firstborn son the name
Of Abihail, and hoped the flame
Of faith would burn in him, as pure
And bright as once burned deep and sure
Within her father's breast.
The boy said, "Mamma, is it right
That you became the Queen because
Your were so beautiful? And laws
Were changed because you were so brave?"
Queen Esther smiled, "Can you behave
If I let you stay up a while?
If so, we'll put another pile
Of logs into the fire, and I
Will tell you, Abihail, just why
Your mommy is the Queen of all
The land from Egypt to the tall
And snowy Himalayas."
Behave," he said, and tried to smile
And look as wide awake as he
Could look for being five. "And we
Can sit here by the fire," he said,
"And later I can go to bed
When you're all through. Okay?"
She said (the way moms do). "Could be
We'll need another night, you know,
We can't talk til the roosters crow!"
And so they stoked the fire once more,
And Esther shut the royal door,
And Abihail climbed in her lap.
And nestled with his little cap
Beneath her royal chin.
Grandfather had a dream: ‘Now wait
No more in Babylon,' a voice
From heaven said, ‘But come, rejoice,
For God has made a plan to save
His people through your son. A slave
Will turn the pow'rs of unbelief
Upon their head, and all the grief
Of captive Israel will turn
To joy." Of course, we had to learn,
In time, that what the dream had meant
Was that, though Abihail was sent—
The son of Shimei—'twas I
And your good uncle Mordecai
Would come at God's appointed time
Alone, and block the awful crime
"Mommy, was he bad?"
"I'll tell you, Abihail, the sad
And ugly truth: that Haman was
A wicked man. A coward does
A lot of sneaky things to make
Himself look good when he's a fake.
And Haman even tried to bring
Ten thousand talents to the king,
And all in silver, if the Jews
Could all be caught and killed. And why?
Because he hated Mordecai!"
"But, Mommy, Mordecai is good."
"Indeed he is! And solid wood,
My son, makes rotten timber rage.
The wicked Haman in his cage
Of cowardice could not abide
The freedom of the man outside."
"And did my dad, the king, agree?"
"Sometimes, dear Abihail, we see
Things different than they are and make
What later seems a big mistake.
He did agree.
God did not
Allow success for Haman's plot
Nor of the king's decree. It seems
That this is what the noble dreams
Of Shimei were all about,
And why my father didn't doubt.
God had a plan to save the Jews
From Haman's wicked scheme: to use
Not Shimei, nor Abihail,
Or mighty armies to assail
The Persian palace walls, but me,
A Jewish orphan girl, to free
The sons of Israel from death.
And even now it takes my breath
Away to think about the ways
Of God, and how from ancient days
He planned it all, and ruled the world,
Right down to how my hair was curled
When all the girls were gathered for
The king to see, and what I wore,
And how I walked, and everything
It took to cause a Persian king
To choose from all the women in
The world this exiled Jewish kin
Of Shimei, O, Abihail!
I hope you see, and never fail
To know that there's a God in charge
Of all the world. He governs large
And small. He sets up kings to reign,
And takes the lion by the mane,
None moves without the Lord's command,
And none can stay his mighty hand."
"But, mommy, weren't you ever scared?"
"Yes, Abihail, but God prepared
A special gift for me one night:
He showed me that by doing right
And trusting him there would be less
To lose and more to gain! And yes,
Should I have even lost my life,
It would be true: to be the wife
Of Persia's king, and false to God,
Is not reward. What good to trod
A bridge of gold above a flood
Of icy hate and Jewish blood?"
"What did you do to save the Jews?"
"Your uncle Mordecai sent news
To me about the king's decree,
And said that I should try to see
The king, and tell him I'm a Jew.
And even when your uncle knew
That I could lose my life this way,
‘If on this dark'ning day
You hold your tongue, God will provide
Protection from some other side,
And you will die. But Esther think:
Is not there now some holy link
Of precious providence between
The Jewish plight and who is Queen?'
And so your uncle Mordecai
Filled me with hope. ‘If I must die
Then I will die,' your mother said.
The sleepy prince picked up his head,
And asked, "Did daddy change his mind?"
"I'd rather say, God touched the blind,"
The Queen replied. "You see, dear son,
If you would truly know what's done
Upon the earth, you have to ask
What power is hid behind the mask
Of man's design. Am I the queen
Because of looks? What does it mean
That Haman hung on gallows made
For Mordecai, and that the blade
Aimed at the Jews, instead of these,
Was thrust against their enemies?"
But Abihail was breathing deep,
And soon the lad would be asleep.
So Esther closed his drooping eyes,
And prayed that God would make him wise.
And then she sang a lullaby
That she had learned from Mordecai:
"There once was a baby born under a tree,
Her dear mamma died, and nobody could see,
Her daddy knelt down by her side on his knee,
And no one but God knew, what this girl would be.
"Her branches spread out and their beauty was seen,
The shade that she made was a deep Myrtle green,
An orphan and lovely as she turned eighteen,
And no one but God knew, tomorrow a Queen."
Rest well, my precious Abihail,
When you are weak, God will prevail.
Trust now the Lord your soul to keep,
He rules the nations while you sleep.
Now listen children, young and old,
God multiplies ten thousand fold
The little power that you bring,
And makes of you a queen or king.
So let the babes light candle three,
None knows but God what they might be.