Abraham’s Lament

When you ordered me to sacrifice my own for love of you, I said no words.

You knew what I would do, and still you asked

for the boy who brought joy to my days,

water for my throat, the boy you promised.

A son who would make every one of my wanderings

through town and desert, dusty road and forest of Cyprus and pine

a journey to your heart, to find my own.

Did you test me because you could not test yourself, Lord?

Was the idea of losing a part of your heart too much,

that you must make me weep in mine?

I ask you, who would save me and my own for years to come?

Who, other than this colt with the knobbled knees,

would graze in your pasture? I slake my thirst at your well,

and you insist that I should drown for this natural desire

to save what I have made.

I cannot love you without a reason why.

He was the reason.

You are so difficult to love—or perhaps I do not know how.

How do I feel anything other than fear when the whirlwind

takes every tent, every goat, wife and son,

when the drought takes all my cattle

and the whirlwind takes the villages I trade good wool with?

I knew those men well.

They knew me.

We drank old wine and bargained hard

until the coals glowed ash and the stars were the only things

that could make us remember.

I swore I would return with the boy,

(I cannot call him by his name, the name I gave him

like a glass of wine, take it because there is no pure water near)

I swore it on the handle of my sharp little knife, so thirsty

though I begged it to slack the desire elsewhere. I would more than all,

slay myself for your whirlwind and your storm,

betray my life sooner than betray my creation

as you betrayed yours.

But you would take what you would.

How could I destroy my sad-eyed son?

He slipped on the rock, and I grasped his hand.

He looked at me and smiled.

To spite you, I would slay my best and first.

What can cease the hurricane?

You cannot have him. I will.

You had victory in mercy.

How is the bud untouched, the tree still rooted, a justice

when all will die this day or the next?

You broke an old man’s will. When your will was done,

(cry the blasphemous Amen, it is as it is written,

could it be anything other than this?)

we clasped one other to each other’s breasts.

I think we shall move far away, to the north country.

Perhaps we shall go south.

We will not trust that we will drown

or be swept away by winds

we cannot understand.

© 2015 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.

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