Sometime afterward, God put Abraham to the test. God said, “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love and go the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you.”
The journey to Moriah is long and steep.
Going out from Beer-sheva, the days were hot and sticky.
As we climbed, it became cooler.
We needed a fire to warm us at night.
On my back, I carried the bundle of splints.
He had our provisions, the flint to make the fire,
the butchering knife he kept sharp and used to dispatch,
with a single, quick stroke across the throat,
each innocent creature for our food
or a sacrifice to the insatiable appetite he called “El Shaddai.”
I never saw him flinch.
We had made Aliyah before. This time was different.
For one thing, he was different.
So tender --
often touching me on the shoulder,
offering me the choicest pieces at each meal,
holding me close under the tarp at night.
Still, I didn’t begin to see until we had left the others.
We began our final ascent alone.
Normally, I wouldn’t have dared ask.
He was never one to suffer fools.
But he had been so gentle, so kind…
“Abba, here are the flint and the wood, but where is the sheep for the offering.”
He turned then, his jaw set, “Elohim will see to it, my son.”
The blindness of age recalls the fading light of that evening
as I lay bound, eyes closed, waiting.
I once had vision; now I have only a single image
that has haunted me since a sob opened my lids those many years ago.
My father is weeping, the blade fallen from his hand.
A young ram, horns caught in the thicket,
struggles to get free.
"Akedah" appears in Clattering East.