From The Diary of Queen Vashti: A Letter to Eshter
by Loretta Diane Walker

Dear Esther: I am beautiful.
I do not speak with the tongue of Narcissus.
My loveliness is like the wine stained goblets
that loitered the guest tables of my husband—our husband.
Vanity did not bind me to my chambers that night,
The Creator did.
He would not allow the folly of a man to soil my crown
or auction my dignity off to the drunk who could ogle the most.

The strength of my resolve spared me from shame
and the look of disgust Xerxes would have shown me
after the red of too much wine drained from his eyes.
After the sun lifted the lid of darkness,
he would have remembered all of those men
touching me with their stares, violating me with lust.

Should this be the fate of a queen?

To never again feel the breath of her king rise and fall as morning
against her cheek while they both walk under the canopy.
Morning is a false soothsayer; it blinds you to the club of pain.
When that first blow strikes your knees, shock steals your voice.
Can you hear desperation in my pen, feel the point of sacrifice?

The scent of trampled olives lingers outside my window;
I miss the way the fragrance of the palace gardens smothers my sandals,
the potters’ birds and mountain goats etched in walls.
I have no maiden to stave off this heat swarming around my arms.
I hear you have seven. What favor you have found with our beloved.
Caution my young counterpart with your lovely figure
and white dove beauty; beware of banquets.
Destruction squeezes its plump head into the belly of grapes,
waiting to be pressed into the wine of celebration.
Before you take that first drink, know I’m living,
exiled to wake and sleep in my convictions
so you can carry the weight of my crown.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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