Isaac, After Mount Moriah (page 4)

“What kind of father does he make me, this boy 

I find tangled in the hair of willows, curled fetal 

in the grove? 

Once, I found him in a far field, the mountain’s peak 

like a blade above us both” (4) 

I believe the poem “Isaac, After Mount Moriah” is Jones’ reflection on his relationship with his father, and his attempt to understand his fathers abuse. The title of the poem is a reference to the Biblical tale of Abraham following God’s orders to sacrifice his son Isaac, which was interrupted by God who commended Abraham for his loyalty. I believe this is applicable to Jones’ life because I will assume his father is Christian, just based on his being Southern, and assume that his Christianity motivated homophobic beliefs and disdain for his son. In this way Jones’ father was being more loyal to God than to his own son when he inflicted abuse and violence onto him. The tone of the lines above feel guilty, as if the father is ashamed of himself both for sacrificing his son in the first place and for the behavior his son reflects on his own character. Isaac is depicted as deviant, sleeping in places he shouldn’t, which is a childlike metaphor for deviant desires/sexuality. There is deep vulnerability exposed, when the father is watching his son sleep, and a real intimacy too – even if he judges these places as wrong or dirty. The “curled fetal” description especially reminded me of how children are not far from being babies, or fetuses, and that they deserve protection, or so the Church believes. 

The final line of the poem is ominous, especially when contrasted with the previous descriptions. The scene is alluding to the title, beneath Mount Moriah where Isaac was sacrificed, which where the distrust between father and son originated. The “blade” is not only a threat to the son, but is “above us both” because the pain of that moment effected them both. Additionally, the blade could be a reference to the severing of the relationship or bond between the father and son.