Salix Babylonica by L. Shapley Bassen

This is how you both have been dealing with the daughters of Israel, and they were intimate with you through fear; but a daughter of Judah would not endure your wickedness. 
APOCRYPHA, Book of Susanna, 57

Daniel, I call to God through you.
I remove my veil before you
and reveal what two elders saw
in my husband Joakim’s house
here in Babylon where God
has allowed us all to be taken.
My beauty, they say, justified
their intended rape.  I resisted
them, trusting to God and you.
Now I am condemned to die
for adultery they say I committed
with a young man too strong for them,
who opened the doors of my garden
and dashed away.  They say they seized
me then and demanded who the young
man was, but I would not tell.
Daniel, I call to God through you.
I remove my veil before you
now I am condemned to die.

Then God aroused the holy spirit of a young lad
named Daniel, and he cried among the captive Jews
of Babylon with a loud voice, speaking for God,
“I am innocent of the blood of this woman.”
All the people turned to Daniel and said, “What
is this you have said?”  Taking his stand
in the midst of them, he said, “Are you such
fools, you sons of Israel?  Have you condemned
a daughter of Israel without examination
and learning the facts?  Return to
the place of judgment.  For these men
have borne false witness against her.”
And so they returned to the scene of the crime,
to the pool in the garden of Joakim, honored
Jew of Babylon, where Daniel separated
the suspects and questioned them cleverly.
“Under which tree in this garden did you see
beautiful Susanna lying with a young man?”
“Under that mastic tree,” said the first, pointing.
“Under that evergreen oak,” said the other, the same.
So the first was cut in two, as his tree was named; and
the second was sawed in half, as his tree was named,
for their false witness against The Name and Susanna.

Hosannah to justice and God who are One!
served by Susanna and Daniel who knew
those liars for what they were!  As penance,
Daniel served the Lord all his days,
crying out in the streets
of the captive Jews of Babylon
for the justice of their God –
and I, Susanna, never again loved Daniel
beneath the weeping tree named for Babylon.

L. Shapley Bassen shared the following biographical tidbits with us: "2011 Finalist for Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award, is Fiction Editor for http://www. prickof (Poetry & Fiction) reviewer for Horse Less Press, Small Beer Press, http://the, Drexel U’s http://www.,, http://www. bigwonderful, Melusine, New Pages, Galatea Resurrects. The Literary Life blogger http://www. sobriquet Over two decades has been published/prize-winning (poetry/fiction) in many lit magazines and zines (Kenyon Review, American Scholar, Minnetonka, Persimmontree, etc.). Reader for http://www.; 2009 winner of the Atlantic Pacific Press Drama Prize. (Audio excerpt at , June ’11) Prizewinning, produced, published playwright (Samuel French , ATA in NYC, OH, NC), and commissioned co-author of a WWII memoir by the Scottish bride of Baron Kawasaki. (Audio 2 poems: View/15_3/poems/bassen.html)". 

Bay Laurel  /  Volume 2, Issue 1  /  Spring 2013