Isaac’s Lament

It was bad enough what my dad did to my brother
but I was supposed to be the apple of his eye,
the miracle my parents couldn’t have.
So what does my father do?
He puts a lasso around me while I’m napping
and I wake up to find him pulling the rope tight
around me and the chair
while he’s got a knife to my throat
mouthing some gibberish about
what God wants him to do.
It was a good thing someone pounded on the door.
It turns out it was a package
but it was like a bolt went through my dad.
He let the rope loose and ran out the door,
tripping over my delivery.

We didn’t talk for a long time after that
and then only when we had to.
Meanwhile my mom died shortly afterward.
I have no idea how she heard
but the shock of it was just too much for her.
I didn’t even say a word to my dad at the funeral—
I just looked at him to ask why.
He tried to put his arms around me
but I pushed him away.

You know, I grew up hearing so much
from my father’s friends
about the time my dad protested the war,
how he went out there alone with signs saying
10,000, 15,000, 20,000—
all the way up to 50,000.
How many will be too many?
At first people called him a traitor
but after a while they started joining him.
It took time, but they began to see
that the madness wasn’t in him
but in having no limits
though that wasn’t what God was telling him.
I don’t know why it was different
when he put the rope around me
but I think he started losing it
after he kicked Ishmael out
against his better judgment.
He was heartbroken
and I don’t think he ever got over it
but I wish I could have met my father
back in those days before I was born
when he was willing to go against God
which actually was the exact opposite
if you ask me.

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Todd Friedman is a retired NYC high school English teacher who now revels in having time to write.  His poems have been published in The Reform Jewish Quarterly, Jewish Currents, Jewish Literary Journal, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, and Blue Collar Review.

Photo Credit: Regina Weiss


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