Poetry: Sarah Asleep

in bed before dawn, stars lashed
to heaven’s Huppah, blessing

the world, but she, no bride,
one hundred years and more

under her belt, dreaming
through creak of soles,

soft tread of boy,
hard step of father

as he smuggles a knife, coils
rope in his pockets, conceals

intent under heavy wrap,
opens the flap of the tent

and with the stealth of a thief,
steps outside.

Had Sarah known, would she
have stood staunch, a barricade

between them—
God, father, and boy?

The father could have refused. But no.
He was a man and like any man,

he followed orders.


Poetry Editor Alicia Ostriker comments:
One way of interpreting the story of “the binding of Isaac” is that it encapsulates the cultural binding of Jewish males to the father and the Father–disempowering the mother. Here is the latest midrash with a woman-centered version of this view.

Need More Lilith?

Sign up now for a weekly batch of Jewish feminist essays, news, events--and incredible stories and poems from 40 years of Lilith.