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Shaking the Tree

How can it be put in perspective?

There is no true congruency between one moment and any other shape.
It stands alone.

Imagine the moment when Abraham,
still breathless from his sudden experience of promise fulfilled,
still hoarse from giving thanks,
still filled with the sight of his newborn son raised
on joyous hands above the altar of faith,
heard the Voice returned to speak a new command:

Take your son, your only son Isaac,
whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there
as a burnt offering…

Mute. The man who argued with his God so freely,
and who had praised Him so freely,
could not speak from within this new bondage.

Spent. The man who had lived his life seeking but a single promise
of being father to a son
could not resist this command, this absolute sacrifice.

We cannot grasp it.
The mindless pain.
The shapelessness of despair.
The lifeless motions.

But the image before the boy’s wide eyes,
that is another matter.

Isaac, with the memory of the dagger descending,
could never overcome this moment.
The shapes were silhouetted and clear.
The boy, although made a wealthy man by the standards of the City,
aged prematurely and was ever ill, never able to share
in the happy promise
he, himself, symbolized.

Never more than a sacrifice.

He had not glimpsed the angel
holding back his father’s hand.
He was never able to tear himself from the ash-strewn altar
tucked away in the shadow of the
Tree of Life.

Shaking the Tree © 1998 by Tobin James Mueller
"Ash" published by ArtsForge Press.
All rights reserved.