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Sarah, Mother of Nations
by James Vasquez
I called him master, so he was,
Who ruled by solemn word,
And quick was done the thing he asked,
Nor ever conflict heard.
'Cross many lands his fame was spread,
They at his name did bow,
And battles he had won afield,
By sweat of furrowed brow.
A stranger when he first arrived,
He prospered greatly here,
As servants, cattle, horse and sheep,
Were multiplied each year.
We wanted not possession or,
Of comforts to delight,
For all our hearts could e'er desire,
Was ours both day and night.
But greater satisfaction yet,
Was ours when God inclined,
To make a lasting pact with him,
That would forever bind,
God's mercies to the needs of men,
Where're they might be found,
That through his servant Abraham,
His kindness would abound.
Yes, kings would of his loins be born,
And nations would be blessed,
And enmity 'tween God and men,
Would know its final rest.
And I, God said, of nations would,
A mother then become,
With progeny like stars above,
So numberless in sum.
But now I tell you of the life,
I lived from day to day,
For all is not as it appears,
Mongst those with feet of clay.
Now I was fair, they said of me,
Of beauty quite endowed,
And with the passing of the years,
My praise was sung aloud,
By men as everywhere I walked,
My figure caught their eye,
But with my husband at my side,
Could nothing more than sigh.
And yet there was occasion when,
My beauty was a peril,
Mongst men who were of mightier sway,
And anything but sterile.
Thus more than once he asked that I,
His sister claim to be,
For fear his days would find their end,
By those who longed for me.
But by God's favor it was learned,
His wife I was, instead,
Most fortunate for me before,
They took me to the bed.
And I appreciated not,
This manner that he showed,
I thought he was above such ways,
And more to me he owed.
For as a man of faith he was,
By then quite widely known,
At times I thought this property,
Was somewhat overblown.
E'en though each time we prospered well,
As on our way we went,
Enriched by those defrauded and,
By them most duly sent.
But faults of mine were also seen,
And now of them I speak,
For though I called him lord I was,
At times not wholly meek.
I have in mind, that you may hear,
How barren I remained,
The promised child awaiting till,
My faith was sadly strained,
And in an impulse one day said,
That he should take my maid,
And by her then a child produce,
Well, he at once obeyed.
But troubles rose for when she found,
A child she had conceived,
With spite she looked upon me and,
Her loathing thus relieved.
In truth, confessing honestly,
I'll say my treatment of,
This lass in kindness lacked a bit,
And even more in love.
She left one day, I'm confident,
My anger drove her out,
Quite satisfied I was she'd left,
Nor took the time to pout.
But God had other plans for her,
And seldom he consults,
His servants, less when they behave,
Like petulant adults.
And so in God's good will again,
She took her place with us,
A friendlier home I vowed to have,
Nor matters past discuss.
And Ishmael thus was born and placed,
Upon my knees from birth,
In hopes his presence would suffice,
To end our family dearth.
But such was not to be for God,
Had promised us the heir,
Would from our very loins be born,
Which I myself would bear.
I heard him from my tent one day,
And hearing then I laughed and said,
"Old lady that I am?"
But nothing from God's ear is hid,
"And why did Sarah laugh?
Is this too great a thing," he asked,
"To do on your behalf?"
But I denied I laughed and this,
He heard as well and said,
"Indeed, you laughed," and I was left,
Well flushed of face and red.
And nothing more was needed by,
That eager man of mine,
Not coaxing or coquettish form,
Nor goblets filled with wine.
And need I say, within a year,
Just as God said 'twould be,
Upon a night of suffering long,
A son was born to me.
We named him Isaac for it seemed,
Our sorrow he replaced,
And laughed at all adversity,
Together we had faced.
And shortly there were problems as,
The son my servant bore,
I saw in mocking tone address,
My Isaac and I swore,
That Ishmael would not have a share,
In Isaac's legacy,
And this to Abraham I said,
As with divine decree.
And God confirmed this word to him,
That he my word should heed,
And vowed to make of Ishmael,
A mighty tribe, indeed.
Our son was then brought up in peace,
Our home a sheltered place,
And daily did I yearn to see,
The promised, holy race.
And yet our son has yet to find,
A woman for his wife,
Through whom our progeny will know,
An oath-appointed life.
But this, I fear, I now must leave,
In Abra'ams worthy hands,
To search mongst Canaan's peoples or,
In distant, foreign lands.
The years have known a fullness which,
My God has greatly blessed,
And shortly when my life expires,
My days shall find their rest.
from the June 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine