Abraham Casting Out Hagar and Ishmael by Guercino, oil on canvas, 1657, held at Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy; via Wikimedia Commons.

Not every child you choose chooses you back.
But I heard only what I longed to hear. Sons.
I, stooped and leather-skinned, would yet
father a tribe. Grains of sand, He said. A pour
of desert stars. I didn’t tell myself, negotiate.
Ask Him, not how many, but how good.

Lot was my first. I loved him as my brother
and my son. A slender boy, smooth-talking
and sleek-muscled. Just a snake, skilled at
shedding skins. He could not help himself—
he struck whoever laid a hand on him. 
There are gifts you cannot give away.

Then my boy Ishmael took me by storm.
Spike-haired as lightning, thunder voice.
Wildness flickered in his eyes. A black
wolf from his birth, to the wrong mother.
I packed him off and threw away my heart.
There are gifts you are not meant to keep.

Last came my Isaac, my unluckiest. Such
a silent child, a watcher, pliable. In short,
a sheep, not a man. Wouldn’t you want to
shake him up, strike him to make him act?
Go ahead, laugh, that’s how I lost him.
There are gifts you get in name alone.

Kristin Camitta Zimet

Kristin Camitta Zimet is author of a full-length poetry collection, Take in My Arms the Dark. Her poems are in Lilith, Anglican Theological Review, and numerous other journals around the world. Her manuscript Face to Face explores voices in Torah from Eve to King David. She is a member of Hopewell-Centre Meeting in Frederick County, N.J.

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