Mark Conway

16. After Abraham Mourns, He Requests Another Son

Off day, the prairie sill

at evening, choked

            with mustard,

thistle, the coarse meadows 


at twilight.  Then father 


went out.  To see

early stars turning

             on their bitter

wheel, the small flames

making the lowland

evening blacker.


I’m old, he said

            to the night,

alone with the women. 

They’re weak, they can’t

            keep these lands.

In winter they’ll eat the corn.


Then God scattered the skies

            with father’s seed,

and commanded him  

to care for each one.

            Count them

and when you tire of counting,

that number will live for you,

            will suffer

in strange lands,

will lose the way.


Dead, they will be yours.


Then father fell to the ground,

weeping, but God said            ,

You can’t give these

sons back to me and went away

the way a father always

leaves a son,


while my father sat in the dirt,

chanting His name.