Isaac’s Memory


What I remember most is the desperate grin
my father wore, his lips retracted, his teeth
moon-white against the ruddy, fissured skin.
That smile said many strange things. Beneath
my father’s horror, I saw a kind of joy
at finding God incoherent, the world absurd;
any god that asked a man to kill his boy
could not be reasoned with, dissolved all words,
and killed meaning, so Abraham was free
of the responsibility to understand.
And when the bushes clattered with a ram,
a brutal disappointment warped his glee
before he accepted the gift, freed my hands,
and damned me to that glittering thought, “I am.”

Forester McClatchey