Abraham and Isaac

You tried to take
my red metals with your wolf jaw tongs

to forge a body never to be flame-licked again
but I reached out and held you

by the throat, pressed
my ear to your chest that meadow

startled with magpies.
You are not the first man

who tried to make my body a smoke.
But here I am

to silver the air and surround you
like a sky vast enough

to take your embers into itself;
I’ve been made to carry your fires.


Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Dooley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 23, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“In the struggle to stay connected to his father, a son might wonder what kind of sacrifice is needed to jettison the pain (of rejection, of disapproval, of dislocation) in order to say, with honesty and generosity, ‘Here I am, Dad.’ When we collide with our parents’ limitations and still manage to enjoy connection, we feel vast.”
—Thomas Dooley