And then,
it was so beautiful. She had a new,
brusque laugh that broke into crystals,
an unexpected, young laugh,
exempt from bitterness.
Not the one she served
to the lone, late passer-by,
the Angel of the Incongruous Promise,
not that old mockingbird chirp.
As though it had always been playing
somewhere, through the years of despair,
and came back from some corner of the city,
some olive grove, to vibrate now
on every leaf and run clear as blood
in Isaac’s veins.
Her laugh like a flag in the sun.
Her son — all seasons of doubt
and renouncement at an end.

Hagar, in the shadow, paused
like the one note of silence.
She knew Sarah’s winter-face,
the barren one, Hagar held
the past in her lap.
She remembered her howling
the night she begged her to warm
Abraham’s bed. Eyes and mouth
red. Now these tears
were forever immured
in Ishmael’s laughter.
So on the day Isaac was weaned,
when draperies color of cream
and crimson blossoms hung
all around the house,
Sarah turned to Abraham and said :
“Get rid of that sound Ishmael
makes, God hears.”
and Hagar became the ache in the empty,
and Ishmael the sharp,
displaced memory.

A grey silent sacrifice
on a grey silent altar.

And then
it was so cruel, God had a new
brusque laugh that broke into
pale dusty mirrors.
“Listen to whatever Sarah tells you”
he said. And it was like
listening to the sound of falling rocks
or letting the rain after
all these dry years
carry back the voices
of the faithless.

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