Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sarai and Abram

Genesis 12:10-20

The book does not tell us, but she's beautiful

as she steps from the golden chair they bring

her in. The flesh of her thigh peeking beneath the sheer cloth.

Hair blue and darkened with henna. Eyes painted black.

Lips as well, and as plump as figs a man might

kill for. The gold and jewels on her arms, neck, ankles and breasts

astonish the eyes with the thought that so much wealth

is worn without a god striking you dead.

The princes laugh at him behind his back. Despite the flocks

flowing like water down the hillsides. The shame

of a man's woman in another man's bed. Or they say worse.

That he'd given her away to get those things.


Did water flow from his lids at night when he turned

and felt another's warmth in her place? Did a voice

cry nearby as if he had taken life and spilled

its blood on a temple floor? Was food like dirt

in the pit of his stomach? The book does not say.

You can only imagine what you might have done.


When she enters the tents, the scent of the perfumes

from the morning bath barely keep her from fainting

in the heat and smell of goat dung. Sour milk and buzzing flies.

From the darkened center, he begs her not to disdain his poverty.

He speaks in a dazed voice about Pharaoh's hands

touching her the way his had and the fire that still

lures him to her and that water could not douse.


She wants wine and to hear music again.

But she knows that Pharaoh had to send her back.

The cities are piled high with bodies and the

prophets say they dreamed she is this man's wife.

That the gods are angry and have cursed Pharaoh,

brother of the gods and upholder of right order.


She thinks, if he'd been a man he'd have died,

instead of telling Pharaoh she was his to have.

This man, her husband, her brother, tells her now

that he dreamt about the altar he built on the mountain.

The memory of it comes back to her slowly.

She hears him telling her then about a voice

he could not understand. How he feels clean.

The hair rising at the back of his neck.


They return by the same route they'd fled the famine.

This time with the soldiers as their shadows.

On the way, he says their children's children will know how she

was given back to him. That their deaths are in that other land.

She does not know anything about it. She is numb

with the rawness of the desert air. He acts like a

bird heading to warmth or a mother to her young.

There are other things he hears, but he cannot tell her.


The book says later that she loves him enough or believes

in the dreams enough to give him her slave to bear a son.

Then, after her blood stops flowing, she has Isaac, the one

who passes on the stories and the dreams. How he once acted

to save their skins. And how the angels came to her once,

and fear and the bitterness dropped away like dead wood.

At night, her stomach sometimes wrenches when she thinks

what she became in Pharaoh's house, in his arms. Whore. Slave.



  1. I know we've commented elsewhere about this series Charles but I just wanted to say - this is truly exceptional, truly.

  2. Interesting use of Pharaonic allusions - a classic tale well told

  3. I love the tenderness and life you breathe into the old testament .Beautiful.

  4. I'm pretty sure I commented on this...wonder what happened?? // An old tale, with a new weave...beautifully constructed...and with an ending that resonates.

  5. I'm not sure what happened here, but I distinctly remember leaving a comment on this very fine and intricate poem. Intricate in thought rather than technically, so intriguing also. I like the way you imagine from the given text and the way that what you imagine seems inevitable. These are the gifts of a natural storyteller, of course.

  6. Hiya Chaz, there seems to be an _09 bit missing from the link in Blenza.
    Maybe that is what confused visitors.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Glad to see this up again, Charles--won't repeat all my earlier comment, just mention my enjoyment at how well you invoke the rich vocabulary of myth and legend in this biblical life lesson.

  9. How we treated and, still do treat both men and women as sex objects never ceases to amaze me. This is a beautifully woven story. The visuals are brilliant and so intricately weaved. So far I'e watched all three of the Starz Spartacus series and, they show the Romans with nudity and having sex in public as not a big deal, especially with slaves of either sex. I imagine it's not too far removed from the truth even though yours is about a Pharaoh.
    Another wonderful read Charles.

  10. I love your re-telling of this story. If the bible went into that much detail, I'd never put it down - like a Harlequin Romance novel! (smiles) Hard to believe the forefathers of judeo-christianity participated in such conduct. I don't understand it, but I guess I don't have to.

  11. A compelling narrative. Always interesting to see "naked" stories done up with rich details.

  12. You surely through in all as you gave the tale a call. Slaves and treatment was more open back then, as you shown with ease. And having it still go on is pathetic.

  13. Great storytelling that keeps you intrigued to the end...much enjoyed!

  14. Beautiful story of a woman, Charles! Is it as a sex object or an element of admiration? Both ways are true and the Gods are accepting both which is good!


  15. God's story in Genesis amazes me because, after all the humanness and shortcuts (i.e.) sin taken in His name, He STILL manages to accomplish his plan and send a redeemer through it all..........
    this re telling was very telling.
    A nice read.

  16. I've heard Sarah and Abraham's story many times because my sister is named after Sarah, but this gives a whole new perspective! You have a real talent Charles. Thanks for sharing. :)