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Jacob Have I Loved

ISSUE:  Spring 2022



I think I lost the genetic lottery,
my cousin told me

in one of the last conversations
we had. He was thirty-three, 

our parents, twins. We were living 
again the few good stories.

Tell me the one
about Esau.



Tell me about God hating him.
I want it to be a problem

of translation: language or time. 
I have never met an Esau,

and what chance 
does a born person have,

though we name them all Jacob?
Tell me my own daughter 

doesn’t wonder 
if she’s naked.

She is running through the yard 
explaining something to her sister. 

I want to keep her
from hiding

in the understory 
as Eve did 

with Adam, children 
believing they could 

from God.



The absurdity of hiding anywhere:
I want to show her 

how to hold her fear
like a child of her own 

how to ask it, between sobs,
where it hurts.



Can I hold you when you’re born?
my daughter asks. She is sitting on my lap. 

We’re sorting photos of my cousin, 
every one in time, 

collapsed. Not a good shot 
at any age.

I hold up the best, a young man,
to take a picture 

of the picture for the obituary. 
I orbit it for some time,

trying to remove my body 
from the light, 

believing the shadow on his face 
is from me.



I’ve tried to remove my body.
How afraid have I been

of being found in it, 

There is no reason for beauty,   
no metric

that holds—
a blessing 

in itself. 
How we look 

to one another. 
Don’t you have 

even one blessing
left for me? 



The shadow is in the photo,
on him, in the room 

where he stood without me,
before I was born. 


In our yard it’s getting dark;
shadows are blessings 

that diffuse all the glare 
from the heavens.

In the cool of the evening 
they heard God 

walking around in the garden:
Where are you?

My daughter’s face is a clean window.
No glare to mirror 

or ask if I am naked, 
if she is Jacob— 

only this reflection
in one another’s eyes.


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