Our Fourmothers


My husband was had
In the whirling of the wind.
In the maelstrom of future witness
He delighted and made peace
With conversion to the unknown.

I followed in silence as is my way
Neither accepting nor denying vision.
Quietly, I packed the belongings of a lifetime;
The silver goblet given me my wedding day
Along with white gown with silvered girdle.
I pressed a flower—fruit of flowering plum
And left
To follow camel bearers out into the sands,
Left to wander with lamb flocks bleating
For tented nights
And following following …

Twice I crept into foreign beds to protect my lord,
Soothing a husband’s fears with practiced blandishments
‘Til he who followed the Whirlwind
Was admonished for hiding behind a woman’s skirts.

I put an end to that
When in the desert’s shimmering came laughter
And my son,
Isaac of the gentle eyes,
Isaac of the promise kept,
Isaac, out of laughter into joy.
Thus I learned
Promises are made the young
‘Tis the order of survival.
But sometimes in the night
Our tears are dried in holy wonder.

Womb empty I offered him solace with a slave,
The variability of desert winds a fact
To reckon with
And act.
Though who should know the end of that woman’s pride!


I lived
Too long a life
Only in the night
When his needs met mine.

I bore his sons
To people Israel,
Reuben, Simon, Levi, Judah…
Men who held a father high
And followed a father’s creed.
For this I was embraced and filled a longing.

When it came his time
To die
His eyes, deep wells of memory,
Turned east
And on his lips was framed the name
Of my sister, Rachel.


I shall not sing for you.
And yet
Yours is the saddest tale of all.
Years of loving gave only the doubtful gift
A torment. Torn
From tribal gods bereft
You followed the keeper of the seed

For you I weep.
You bore your way in innocence
From well to wellsprings of a nation
Knowing only the need to birth.
And for love of Jacob’s love
You died.


I have come to regard the flight of birds as an omen.
During those fallow months
They followed me.
Their cacaphony a warning to a womb trembling
with pain and regret
For the future of my lot.

As a young girl draped in silks
I heard the cooing of doves
As I was patted and prepared—
Chests of lines brimming
I was made mindful of the blessings I was to bear.

I was tender then,
Enjoying the scent of mother love
Comforted in the nest
Until the moon’s reminder of the savage blow
of womanhood
When I was sent far from the olive groves of home.

It was my time
And I became mother
First to Isaac
Who waited forty years to become a man
And who, with help of mother, wife and God
Begat sons
Who fought the very seed of life
For right of passage.

Oh I know that history will revile me
Hold it my concern
That he whose heel was held lost all.
I take this curse upon me.
And with a mother’s heart curse all
Who left to me
The choice of a blind man.
He who would follow the loving God
Must not give way to love
But choose the one whose grasp of life
Will determine that he endure.
Lest the birds which fly above be carrion.

Elsa Nad is Associate Editor of Directorship, a business publication. “Sarah” has been published in Poet Lore.