Davitte colla fromba
e io coll'arco
Back again in the Valley of Elah,
surrounded by this scaffolding of light,
Mediterranean oak and terebinth.
You and I, we have been in single combat
forty days and forty nights, your shadow
looming over penitence like a wrath.
You’ve savaged my dreams, a lion stalking
among the grasses, a black bear tearing
at flesh; and I a ruddy boy, alone.
Now I stand, unarmoured, unadorned, stone
in one fist, conviction in the other.
I watch your face, try to find it in your eyes,
dark furrowed in that contemptuous glare.
There: fear, flickering like a borrowed wick.
It comes to this: rock against blade, marble
against faith, this armoury of heaven
vengefully clenched, a coiled-up serpent tongue.
Rise up then, unquarried colossus, rise:
And I will sling defiance into your
disdain, chisel deep into your brow
the tetragrammaton of my God.