by Mary Harwell Sayler
from Genesis 49
No matter how you brace yourself,
your father’s death moves toward you
like a sirocco, steering dust and famine.
What do you want stirred before he dies?
A word of love? Respect? Or at last, just
an acknowledgement that, yes, you lived.
How quickly time has passed! As you
gather for your father’s final blessing,
the Promised Land consists of little real
estate – little more than a grave or cave
for burying, little more than an avowal
to hand down instead of deed and title,
but with that breath of blessing comes
a word from God, inherited by faith.
Judah, of all of Jacob’s offspring, you
alone have shown you know a day will
come when each of you must stand
on the indwelling of a word with deed –
as though the promise is as real as
land or life or the breath of a dozen
sons and daughters. Brace yourself
for the embrace of the wind. Can
you stand to be the father’s chosen?
© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler. Originally published August 2007 in “Bible Talk” on the Catholic Exchange website and used here by permission of the author, the poem later appears in Mary’s book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books. For more on Judah and the Twelve Tribes of Israel, visit Bible Prayers.