The Sacrifice of Isaac (Uffizi)

Donít believe the result of Caravaggioís greatest failure: that one black eye of Isaac
turning to the light Ė
thereís more terror in Abrahamís wrinkled hand,
in the curve of ramís-neck above the sonís head.
His eye has little fear, no reflection of father pushing knife to neck,
no petrified uncertainty,
but mild offense -- imprecise, choked.

Blame Ė
then blame retracted, for we all are guilty of knowing:
the boy survives. Foreknowledge makes us weak.
Comfort warps our illustration, darkens the perception of dread.
Do I do the boy double harm? The more I look, the more my hand
is filled by knife. Yet, see its transparency? The portion of arm
showing through silver blade? Little care. It is nearly as offensive
as the eye. And double Isaac: Boneri -- one model for both angel and boy,
double-self hidden by curl and shadow. Never any risk, always the power
to retrieve the weapon, to point one spot-lighted finger toward the animal.

In the painting, the ram draws so near the knife, its fold of sloping ear a cave.
Its pointed snout whispers to Isaac: I give myself for you. I must
give myself for you.

The true ram was captured in a thicket below the rare landscape,
locked to ground by human strength, throat slit, an animal scream rising,
a curdled wail, then the flow of blood for worship, blood for bloodís sake,
dark, bubbling hot.
There is truth in that framing, but little easy beauty.

Jazzy Danziger is a student in the MFA program at the University of Virginia. She has worked as an editorial assistant, graphic designer, radio personality, and singer, and enjoys baking layer cakes with buttercream frosting. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize from Washington University in St. Louis. (jazzydanziger@gmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761