Davi Walders

Michelangelo’s David

David stands alone, high on his pedestal in the Accademia
Gallery in Florence, hands huge, muscles taut. Eyes focused
on the distance, head turned just a bit, he is poised to lunge

or cut or throw, his slingshot barely visible. No Goliath,
no Uriah, no enemy in sight. Just a young man with curls
uncombed, tall, slender, towering with energy, waiting.

And Michelangelo, all the years of carving, hewing away
the carrara marble to reveal what he alone could see
in the stone, reworking others’ mistakes, stealing into

morgues to study bodies, veins, tendons. But no Jewish
corpse would be found there, bathed and buried by family
or chevra kadisha as soon as possible, even the poorest soul

guarded by shomrim until the body was settled deep in freshly-
dug earth. Perhaps Michelangelo didn’t know, had never seen
a circumcised penis; perhaps he thought the sheath more beautiful,

more Greek, or easier to chisel. Or perhaps he decided to cloak
David’s genitals in one of the hundred Philistine foreskins the
youth brought to Saul as a bride price for Michal. Maybe wisdom

compelled Michelangelo not to want to offend the Pope,
commissioners, or the Florentines with a circumcised male
poised high above them. But this stunning fore-skinned creation

cannot be the man who would become king of Israel, who,
with Michal, Abigail, Bathsheba and others would father
Solomon and fifteen other sons. We cannot know Michelangelo’s

thoughts during the years he labored on his famous David.
We only know that this stunning sculpture breaks a thousand-
year covenant converting the future king from Israelite to other.



Davi Walders is the recipient of the Greater Washington Hadassah's Myrtle Wreath Award for developing the Vital Signs Writing Project at NIH; a Puffin Foundation grant, a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, and residency fellowships at the Alden B. Dow Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Blue Mountain Center, and the Ragdale Foundtion. Her poetry has appeared in CCAR Journal, Conservative Judaism,Midstream, Moment and Lilith, and such anthologies as Literature of Spirituality, Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Bearing Witness to the Holocaust, and The Women's Seder Sourcebook. She is the author of Women Against Tyranny: Poems of Resistance During the Holocaust (Clemson University Press, 2011). To read more by this author: Davi Walders: Whitman Issue Davi Walders: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue