You’re telling me my son will live? Your words
offer a bottomless well of cool, fresh water to us
in this parched wasteland. My only sustenance these last hours
has been the warmth of his body against mine. Although his limbs
lately have become like shoots in the first warmth of a spring sun,
he still fits snugly in the circle of my embrace.
The One Who Sees must have ears as well. I rocked my boy,
smoothed his matted hair. We clung to one another as if to ropes
that could haul us out of a dark, earthen-walled pit. I could not bear
to see his listlessness, his lips dry as blown dust. Yet hearing his cries
as I crouched far off cracked open my heart, unleashing my own wails,
the last bitter drops of water on earth drying to salt flats on my face.
All this because I did what was asked. Neither the wrinkles carving
my master's face like gullies nor his grizzled beard were enticements.
I admit I grew haughty, but soon I was taught to remember
my servitude. Still, the All-Seeing's unsought promise succored me.
My master's eyes softened whenever he beheld my boy,
but spiteful Sarai swelled with venom as if from an asp's bite.
Young as he is, my Ishmael is handy with a bow. If we could find
a spring in this wilderness near which to forage, we could stay here
gathering strength, just as my child once sojourned in my womb.
Our burning thirst now slaked, when he wakes I will cradle him,
the mercy of the One Who Hears anointing him like costly oil,
comforting him even as I have been comforted.
Patricia L. Hamilton
Patricia L. Hamilton, the author of The Distance to Nightfall (Main Street Rag), is a professor of English in Jackson, TN. She won the Rash Award in Poetry in 2015 and 2017 and has received three Pushcart nominations. She has new work in Soul-Lit, Fare Forward, and The Windhover and work forthcoming in Bindweed and Broad River Review. She enjoys travel, jazz, and cappuccino.
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