Alternate Ending: The Escape of Jephthah’s Daughter

Seeing my father tear his clothes at the sight of me,
each seam of cloth unspindling to reveal his bare,

flexing chest as he wailed a heartfelt regret,
I could no longer take him seriously. God,

I realized, played favorites and favored fools.
Who did he think would walk through the door

to greet him? The irony!—I could hear the future
exclaim. And a virgin sacrifice, at that!

But I’m no archetype. I fled to the mountains,
promising return, but what is a promise if not

an exchange of ideas about ourselves, subject
to evolving circumstances? If my nation burns, so be it.

Many will be grateful. And there’s no lack of men
eager to sing of how they suffered greatly and prevailed.

J. Estanislao Lopez, “Alternate Ending: The Escape of Jephthah’s Daughter” from We Borrowed Gentleness. Copyright © 2022 by J. Estanislao Lopez. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.