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This poem is taken from PN Review 233, Volume 43 Number 3, January - February 2017.

Five Poems Zohar Atkins
The Binding of Isaac

Twenty minutes away, a young Muslim is dying of bone cancer
In an Israeli hospital. His sister refuses to donate her marrow
And the young man cries out in darkness, ‘Allah, Merciful One, I know
You are punishing me for all those naked women I visited.’
And under his rage is the sadness of tank-ploughed olive groves.
We read about it in our seminar and debate the pros and cons
Of hugging him. We refer to human touch as an intervention.
‘Who are you to love me?’ We hear our fantasies shout back at us.
And so it was that Abraham, having heard the angel’s voice
And felt her tears, untied his only son, saying, ‘God has provided
The offering for us.’ But Ishmael insisted Avraham had heard wrong
And said, ‘My place is here, on the altar.’ And Abraham said, ‘Isaac, Isaac.’
And Ishmael said, ‘Hineini.’



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