The girl went out, and said to her mother “What must I ask for?”
“The head of John the Baptizer,” answered her mother.
who am I to make a decision
in a world of top-down power
not even a best friend will do
when dealing with this opportunity
whomever I vest with authority
to direct my life risks my death
what shall I ask means less
than who I ask for guidance
when number one requests
it is only number two to go to
with this deed done
a limit of power is revealed
there is no one without an agenda
when within a circle of power
subservient mostly until an opening
which now becomes a sharp trap
Through experience we mature. This general statement recognizes differing stages of life. There is development of thinking by age that is particularly notable on both ends of a life span. There are also fears and carefully taught prejudices that short-circuit knowing anything beyond what we already know.
If this is a pre-teen girl this story is grosser than we first wanted to admit. If it is someone who has settled into their curves and knows how to use them, why would they run to Mama? Do they not have their own calculation of what the equivalent of half-a-kingdom might be for them? All the while we remember this is a patriarchy that devalues women, particularly their intellect, and gives no practice beyond a household economy.
“What should I ask for”, implies a calculus of greed. Somewhere this daughter has learned that, “Mother knows best!”
While this conversation is going on, what do you think is happening back in the feasting room. What is the going rumor about Herod’s offer and the girl’s response of leaving? Is there betting she’ll return and hold Herod to his promise (probably not wise to beard this lion in his own den)? Does everyone at the party know the offer was merely complementary and there is no culturally acceptable response that would do except embarrassed leaving, a simple, “You do me great honor with your offer”, or a request for a token?