Jacob – a poem by Tim Miller


The night I fled my father and brother
I came to a certain place at sundown.
I used a stone for my pillow and shelter
and while I slept the curtain of the sky
was lifted and I saw steps climbing up
to heaven and a face carved out of fire
fashioning a Temple. And my face glowed
from God and the angels of God who stood
over me, and I blessed the place when I woke,
the place where the future was folded up
and put beneath my head as a pillow.
And God’s voice and God’s visions pursued me,
they rattled like the fruit and leaves of the
almond tree, and peace were not on those lips.

The night before I met my brother again
I was alone with someone at that river,
and we wrestled through our strength on the ground
and we rose up to heaven and continued
to scuffle there, until both our bodies
glowed and he wrenched my leg into a limp,
and adorned me with a new name – Israel.
And he did not tell me I would find peace,
he did not say there would simply be love,
he did not simply say “sons and daughters,”
but he did say, “You will always see the
morning others hoped to keep from you.
Your stubbornness will never cease, your words,
your families, no more than this blue river.”

I was marked by all my family’s stories
I was marked by this wrestler in God’s skin
I was marked by what God did to my body,
making it whole with injury and strangeness.
I will die with sons and grandsons around me
and all of Egypt will be led beyond
the Jordan to mourn my body’s return
to those who made pilgrimage before me.
My years have been bright in enormous struggle,
in vivid love, injustice, and mercy.
Let the world worship every obvious
power and glory, and leave me alone
with silence and exile, the gathering
of my sparks, with God’s slow accumulation.

Tim Miller‘s books include the poetry collection Bone Antler Stone (High Window Press), and the long narrative poem, To the House of the Sun (S4N Books). He is online at wordandsilence.com, and can be heard on the poetry and mythology podcast Human Voices Wake Us.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s