In the black night / the river runs cold / slowly passing me by / over formerly sharp-edged stones / worn smooth by centuries of churning, / as if through earthy veins – / and I Jacob, alone, / shiver and wait / to meet my brother / and daylight.
Will there be war? / And will the angels carry my soul / up the rungs of the ladder / leaving my blood / to soak the earthy crust?
A presence!? / And I struggle yet again / as if in my mother’s womb / and in my dreams.
We played together as children once, / my brother Esau and me / as innocents, / and I confess tonight / how I wronged him / and wrenched from him his birthright / as this Being has done to me / between my thighs.
I was so young / driven by ego and need, / blinded by ambition, / my mother’s dreams / and my father’s silence.
I so craved to be first born / adored by my father, / to assume his place when he died / that my name be remembered / and define a people.
How Esau suffered and wailed / and I didn’t care. / Whatever his dreams / they were nothing to me – / my heart was hard – / his life be damned!
But, after all these years / I’ve learned that Esau and I / each alone is / a palga gufa – a half soul / without the other – / torn away / as two souls separated at creation / seeking reunification / in a sea of souls – / the yin missing the yang – / the dark and light never to touch – / the mind divorced from body – / the soul in exile – / without a beating bleating heart / to witness – / and no access to the thirty-two paths / to carry us together / up the ladder / and through the spheres.
It’s come to this! / To struggle again – / To live or die.
Tonight / I’m ready for death / or submission.
Compassionate One: / protect Esau and your servant – / my brother and me / as one – / and return us to each other.
El na r’fa na lanu! / Grant us peace and rest! / I’m very tired!
Originally published in the CCAR Journal: Reform Jewish Quarterly, Spring, 2010, pages 113-115