Our Sacrafice (excerpt from "My Midrash") by Philip Terman

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


Daughters, if a crazy, wild voice spoke
in some forsaken place and bid us
to sacrifice you as a test of our faith,

the same wild voice who promised
to make our name, and therefore
your names, great, who would bless those

who would bless us, who would curse
those who would curse us, that voice
that gave us, and therefore you,

this house, these parcels of land —
that same voice that bade us to count
the stars and the sand and spoke

the words: covenant and exceedingly
many —
daughters, even if it means our names
never change, and kings and queens

never go out from us, even if it means
the voice that spoke to us will no longer
speak to us, even if it means the loss

of thousands of years of holiness,
of great structures and stories, of laws
indelible, of rituals enriched

with repetition, even if it means
the abandonment of a people stubborn
and tenacious as the earth itself —

we would not take you — our daughters,
our only daughters — children
of our old age, who gave us laughter —

we would not go up together,
we would not take the wood and knife,
we would not build the fire,

we would not stretch out our hands —
though we would be written out of the book,
though in our refusal we would lose a nation.


Philip Terman is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Among the Scribes (Out and Back Press, 2013), The Torah Garden (Autumn House Press, 2011) and Rabbis of the Air (Autumn House Press, 2007).   Autumn House Press will publish Our Portion: New and Selected Poems  in 2015.  Recent work  appears in The Sun, The Cortland Review, Laurel Review, and 99 Poems for the 99 Percent. He teaches literature and creative writing at Clarion University, where he directs the Spoken Arts Reading Series, is co-director of The Chautauqua Writers Festival, and Contributing Editor for Poetry for the Chautauqua Journal. On occasion, he performs his poetry with the jazz band, Catro.