Jacob’s Tale

Nancy Hightower

one’s life can be read through bodies:


my arms reach out to steal my brother’s blessing,

then, legs twist around my waist

and in the darkness  I press my lips

against a salty neck, crying out her name

       home home home.

yet when morning comes,

i see only a stranger.


seven years I live a slave for love,

leaving with two wives instead of one and

warring sons who throw themselves into starlight, limbs askew,

burning out their stories one by one.

later, they tell me my dearest boy is dead,

torn apart by some wild, sand-whipped thing.

they give me his coat to smell, colors muted, my eyes finally blinded.

i believe the scent, just like my father did.


how many deserts does it take to come full circle?

in that muddy darkness, i wrestled god,

felt his body break under my own grief,

hip unhinged, our journey hobbled.


in the gap of dried blood, shrunk muscle

a deceiver unmasks himself,

peels back the skull and bones and waits

to be reborn by the edge of a river.


Photo_HightowerNancy Hightower’s short fiction and poetry has been published in Strange Horizons, Word Riot, storySouth, Gargoyle, Electric Velocipede, Prick of the Spindle, and Bourbon Penn, among others. Her eco-fantasy, Elementarí Rising, just came out with Pink Narcissus Press. You can see more of her work at Nancyhightower.com.