NaPoWriMo Day 18 (Day 25 for Everyone Else)

This poem has been simmering for a couple of weeks now, ever since I used the persona-poem prompt to write about Abraham. Today, seeing a magnificent poem in the voice of Hagar, by Catherine Pritchard Childress at Vince Gotera’s blog, sent me back to work on the new poem, this time from Sarah’s point of view:

SARAH BREAKS HER SILENCE

Some time later I tested Abraham
by bidding him to lie with my servant-woman, Hagar.
It had been many years since The Speaking
granting us a land for our descendants–
and my husband was feeling keenly his dearth
of descendants. I suspected that his trust
in The Speaker was growing shaky (imperceptibly
to all but me), like both of our wrinkling hands.

I myself had never doubted
that the promised child was far off.
I knew that for a time, The Speaker was just keeping
His word to Himself. And often,
in the hot afternoons when the tent grew quiet
and the livestock slept, faintly I could hear
the approaching child’s laughter fluttering
around my body like a gossamer cloak.

Besides, I remembered clearly
my own Speaking vision, given when my father
gave me in marriage to his brother:
I half heard, half saw, fully knew my husband’s destiny
would be to try to carve a blade into our future son’s lean neck
the way his own father had sliced and gouged
temple idols out of oak. In this way I knew
my husband, in consenting to turn upon our son,
would turn away from me and from every deity of trees.

Thus at Mamre, it was not just my laughter
but my own cracking bark I heard
upon the visitors’ Speech announcing
our next-year baby. That, and the chopping fall
of all the oak Asherah poles outside His future temples–
and my betrayal by a Deity without roots.

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5 comments on “NaPoWriMo Day 18 (Day 25 for Everyone Else)

  1. A very fun, yet sensitively difficult poem to write, no? I am writing one about The disciples crossing Lake Tiberius, after the feeding of 5,000 when Christ walked on water. The process is one of great study, research, and meditation. I would hope to finish in a week, but it feels like it may be a much longer project to make come alive to the standard I would hope for it to live up to:)

    Good Job and I loved reading yours!!

    • Thank you so much, Reno–and yes, you’re absolutely right about the difficulty. I still feel like I’m just getting started on this one, that it’s not even close to done. (Thanks to the NaPoWriMo project, I’m a bit more comfortable than before with putting a “drafty” poem out there to be read.) All the best with the one you’re working on; I look forward to reading it when the time comes!

  2. This is a remarkable piece. I thought at the beginning of your poem about woman today who can’t carry children solicit a surrogate. Hagar was the first.

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