Saturday, June 30, 2007

IN PARAN

Call me Ishmael: my mother was a slave in the house of a patriarch
Hand against her thigh, he swore to her to raise her firstborn
But he lied. He threw my mother out; she made it to Paran
She found a well and didn’t die. She saw God and lived;
I saw demons and thrived.

I grew up wild and reckless in the land of desert nomads,
In the arid lands that lie near the promised land and Egypt,
That land of milk and honey they were saving for my brother
And the land of Pharaoh’s bondage where my mother’s kin were born.
I lived my youth near Canaan and the slaving lands of Egypt,
I lived my life an outcast in the desert of Paran.

I grew up wild and stubborn: my hand against my father
At war with all my kinfolk; my kin at war with me.
I grew up wild and skittish, like a scared colt in a sandstorm
I laughed at mules and camels that never could break free.

But I learned to run in sandstorms, and how to eat my water,
And how to find oases, and how to take the heat.
I learned to talk to demons, to tempters and to genies.
I learned to talk to devils, to outcasts just like me.

I learned to love and pity my younger brother Isaac
When they took him to the slaughter, not even asking why.
God bade me make the manna for Isaac and his children.
My demons said they’d be here, twelve tribes of them someday.
In this land of desert nomads near the promised land and Egypt
Near the land of milk and honey in the desert of Paran.
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