Sarah

In the dim tent,
Its dark hides
No longer needed
To protect
My beauty,
My fertility
From lascivious eyes,
But still my refuge
From the fierce light,
The yellow sun
Beating the earth
As my childlessness
Battered my soul,
I saw three men
Appear,
Shimmering,
Brighter than heat-haze,
Until Abraham’s greeting
Transformed them
Into the simulacrum
Of travellers.

I baked,
The calf was killed
For these rare creatures,
Visitors to the old man,
Patriarch only
To a slave-woman’s son,
And his wrinkled wife,
Her womanhood,
Her beauty
Dessicated
By age and disappointment.

Concealed
In the dim tent,
Sheltered by propriety.
I knew it a mistake
When the bright stranger
Promised me a son
And I laughed,
Presuming him ignorant
Of my withered womb.

But suddenly
His light
Outshone
The beating sun,
His power
A vast shadow
In the shadeless day,
Piercing
My refuge-tent,
My heart,
My all,
As he promised
That no wonder
Was beyond the Lord
And I knew
I had laughed at
An angel,
At the living God.

II

The majestic Lord,
The Lord of wonder,
Assured me
That my womb
Would flower
And I laughed
In scepticism,
In bitterness,
In unbelief,
Until my fear
Struck the laughter
From my lips.

I knew
When Abraham
In cautious,
Breath-holding love,
Began my miracle,
But I could not laugh
For fear.

I tiptoed
Through each
Weary, aching,
Joyful day,
Each hour of confirmation,
Movement,
Flowering
Of the child within,
Stretching
My too-old body,
Greedy
For my willing gifts,
But I dared not laugh
For fear.

After endless days,
Each too short,
Too long,
I held my living,
Flailing,
Screaming miracle.
I named him Isaac,
Because now,
All fear assuaged,
All bitterness
Washed
In his birth-blood,
I could only laugh.

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