Naomi Kim

hagar in the desert


But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. Genesis 16:6 (ESV)

i. and she fled from her

five fingers of scarlet brand my cheek

sarai’s handprint, her harsh words

stinging ringing blistering


here i am now

gasping for breath

hot sand burning through my sandals


at every turn, a mirage

there, the water, there, almost there

all the air shivers in the heat

there, water, there

a fever dream


and then—at last—the spring on the way to shur—

i drink and wipe my mouth


God must be blind and deaf and mute

heaven seems distant but

i could slip under the water’s surface

and lose myself in this mirror of the sky


but whose hands are these, that stay me?

whose voice, that greets me, calls me hagar?

hagar, the name even i have almost forgotten?


and then i am weeping in God’s arms

at the water’s edge


God, who whispers promises in my ear,

God, who has seen me

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. Genesis 21:15-16 (ESV)


ii. she lifted up her voice and wept

it seems not even God has dared

to walk this wilderness,

where we have been cast out to die


what can i do now, but

lay my only child down beneath

this scraggly, tired bush,

its own thin leaves begging for water


what can i do now, but

turn my eyes away


i open my mouth and let

my wordless lament


the sky apart



teeth,          let my weeping


this unforgiving land

what troubles you, hagar?


the whisper is a breeze i breathe in

blessed coolness that soothes the dry throat,

sweet like honey and unforgotten promises


God’s thumb

wipes away my tears

and now, at last, i see:


God’s great big footprint, filled with water

that we may drink, and live

Naomi Kim graduated from Brown in 2021 with a degree English.

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