An old man walks uphill and builds an altar,
prepares wood for the burnt offering.
A boy follows his father, not knowing
where they will find an animal to slaughter.
There is a long, tense pause,
an instant thick with trembling,
when a weathered hand covers the soft face
and pushes the precious head against the kindling.
The knife gripped firmly in a knotted fist,
the blade set to plunge into soft neck
and splash a boy’s life across the rock –
now, only an angel of the Lord could stop it.
The ram in the thicket. The scent of fat
melting over stone. This miracle boy
will live, have sons, grow old and blind. He’ll laugh
at his blessings when the Lord provides joy
enough to forget the books of old men,
fathers who carry knives and fire,
and the sacrifice required to build a nation.
No, he will be thankful. The Lord provides.
Ben Weakley lives and writes in the Appalachian Highlands of Northeast Tennessee. His work won the 2019 Heroes' Voices National Veterans Poetry Competition. He has previously published in The Ekphrastic Review and his poetry can also be found in Portside and Modern Haiku Magazine.
The Ekphrastic Review
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