look in the eyes of isaac when he knows
that he is to be killed
his father steel-eyed and vague knowing only that he follows a god
the knife and the altar
there is no lamb
he trusted his father
but trust wars with self-preservation
even if he was strong enough, he could not run
though he knows, now

then his father mumbles following another vague command, eyes brighten -

look, a lamb, for the slaughter
and isaac shaking
stands obedient through the sacrifice, his father's joy

and cold
under a dark sky shivers without father or god,
earth speaks to him
tells him that all is a manifestation of unity
the stars, cold rocks, the twisting trees
all is his home and he is no stranger
no place is now barred to him
he may choose to leave or stay
bow to his father's god and continue the patriarchy
betray his own sons


isaac then as an old man mourning his daughter
whom he killed by neglect
he didn't know how to take care of her
then someone else, a second daughter who took the place of the first but never could
in his affections,
embraced him
yet he still yearned for the one who was lost
finally somehow he lets go and the bears dance with him
take him into their lair
where he learns to laugh and cry, put flowers in his hair
and he runs down the mountain naked
headfirst into a stream
where he becomes a salmon
that gets eaten by the bear
becomes a bird that squawks in the midday sky and disappears
becomes music, becomes
hatred in the bones of an old woman
knowing that all is lost
becomes a dream
so evanescent, like a rainbow
over the ancestors, over the descendants
that makes everyone remember his name: yitzchak, he will laugh


(c) Tina Minkowitz 2007