IX. LOOKING BACK

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Daniel Seiter, The Sacrifice of Isaac, c. 1690

          Abraham went and took the
ram, and offered him up for
a burnt offering in the stead
of his son.
— Genesis 22:14

How could he know
the smile to give me?
But he did — he must have —
and chose to hold it from me.

You would think it was conflict
that kept him silent,
but conflict cannot
conspire in certainty.

Father was certain:
I was to be spared,
but I would be taken
by his own grey-knuckled,
resolute hand.

Even now
I like to think
he was climbing
just to clear his head,
keeping silent and binding me
just to prove his point,
raising the knife
in symbolic devotion.

But he knew — he must have —
that he would do it,

clean the knife with his tears,
and cautiously guide the donkey
back down
in the dying light.

[For Fraser J. Abraham]

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