Original publication: Voices Israel, 2013
By Richard Mather
Abraham prepared a table before me
Even as I spoke harshly of the desert’s hot kisses.
He moistened my head with oil.
“You are safe,” he said. “My people will fight for you.”
If I was a fugitive, I was no longer a stranger in his tent.
He filled my cup to the brim
As if I was a visiting king.
I said: “I have found satisfaction in God. I need nothing else.”
We sat and ate. He talked of Abel and Seth,
Of the riddles of Shem and his book of secrets,
Of his own father and his absurd idols.
I ate and drank. And drank some more.
We could hear the desert jinn tell each other sad stories.
That night I slept badly.
The wind told also me stories. Or perhaps it was imagination.
In the morning, Abraham blessed me and called me his son.
“May I come to nothing and to cease becoming;
To turn to nothing and to cease returning;
To cease – and to cease returning.”
“This is my prayer,” he said.
I bowed my head but said nothing,
Preferring to set out for Salem in silence
To rebuild Noah’s altar and pray for this troubled generation.
And as I wandered through the valley,
I dreamed I was Adam who woke up one morning
And took a bite out of God.