Brahm’s Requiem

In the stunning suburban church

the orchestra delivers the goods

The choir swoons

The soloists soar

& the whole beautiful thing

goes on & on

But all the time they’re playing

my eyes keep sliding over

to the stained-glass window

where the yellow-haired angel

is staying the hand of Abraham

The angel’s hair curls upward in an S

& his wings are red

Abraham is surprised

He was all geared up for this

& Isaac his son is looking down & away

clearly traumatized

as his bare white torso & legs

are bound by red rope

& you want to stand up

in the middle of the church

walk over & reach into the window

& tell him: It’s cool It’s cool kid

This is just a lesson your Dad had to learn

about faith & obedience

See? He’s putting away the knife

The angel came in the nick of time

God was just kidding! Isn’t that great!?

It was just a test! A stupid stupid test

& your dad passed

& as you cut him free you realize

there’s not enough room

on this window to tell the whole story

How Isaac will never be able to trust his father again

How Abe will never be able to meet his son’s eyes

How the town will talk about the man

who took a blade to his own son’s neck

& meanwhile the choir & the orchestra

& the soloists are going on & on about

how when the trumpet sounds

every faithful servant will be spared

Death where is thy sting?

Hell where is thy victory?

& in my mind one finger on my left hand rises

& points at one of the most horrific stories

in a book full of them & my mind says


It’s right there

Don’t you see?

Everything you need to know about god

is on that window


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