Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Hagar

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Hagar

Article excerpt

And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. (Gen. 21:15)

Was it a mountain wavering on the rim

of sky, or only air, shaken like a flame?

Dust stung my nostrils. Lizards fled

over the sharp track where my feet had bled.

My sandal thongs were broken. The water was gone.

1 cracked the jar, it cracked like an old bone.

Lord of the desert, did you bless

that birth? Bonded to Abraham, did I guess

his wilderness? He thrust

us out from the squandering of his lust

after I'd framed its future. Hers as well,

griping mistress whose belly would not swell,

witch whose hair I brushed and wound in braids,

whose robe I stitched, whose veil I decked with beads

to snag his pleasure. What was left my own?

Not my bought body, surely. Not my son.

Only that core of shock from which he surged,

the spasm that unbonded me, and purged

me of Master and Mistress and the Lord.

I pressed my knees to the rock, and poured

my body out like sand across the sand.

Not to see him die, I pressed my hand

into my sockets, but his cry broke through

all bone and fiber, shattered the sealed blue

of heaven to wound your vast and hovering ear,

Lord of the desert, Lord who cannot hear

our prayers, but the deathwail of a child

startling from the rootclutch in the wild. …

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