Charles Fishman

Abram and Sarai

Genesis 12-17

So Abram went to Canaan
and built an altar to the Lord
Still, famine struck the land:
the earth was bitter  
followed his own compass

and trudged to the Negev
the Nile Delta, where crops
were flourishing
   and he loaned
his lovely wife, Sarai, to Pharaoh
lest her ripe beauty get him killed

There’s a lot more to this story—
but mostly rewards and punishments:
what the Lord promised and what he
took away
   also, who owned which part
of Creation
   and how much it cost him

Of course, there were wars
   filial antagonisms    spousal
deceits:  who conceived
   and who
   who slew whom    and the long-
range consequences of victory

and defeat
     How the Lord must have relished
this pageant of ruined covenants:
possessions lost
   and dark karma acquired
a parched old man and woman
by divine whim
   and given new names

a new mission
   and a long memory
written in the flesh:
 Sarah the wizened
and Abraham the broken reed:
of a great people
   haunted by history
and slaughtered to this hour.