Who knows how many have been called before
or since? After all, if you’re a settled city dweller,
it seems foolish to trust the voice of a deity that
you don’t have a sculpture of—when all other
deities have their own little specializations.
The only heaven you might know is having enough
number of children to preserve your bloodline—
which, if you’re past ninety, is not much. Just one.
So with the barren state of your octogenarian wife
and what infant mortality might look like four millennia
ago, you stepped out into what could only be called
by some as either credulity or wish fulfillment.
But the reward for believing, the Voice says, is descendants
whose numbers rival the best analogies for multitude:
more than hordes or herds or even the still-bushy
wild hair on your head seasoned by decades
of Middle Eastern sandstorms and sun,
starting with one named Laughter, then through him
twins, and twelve tribes, and two hundred nations,
some growing to hate one another to death, but finally
including one to be called Prince of Peace, whose life was
not to be spared, unlike Isaac’s.
And when this Prince talks about how “before Abraham
was born, I am,” you knew what he meant, as you sharply
remember thinking how it wouldn’t have mattered whether
you drove the knife through your son’s chest or yours.