Leah Considers Mercy
“When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved,
he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.”
- Genesis 29:31
On my knees I begged, Lord
make him love me, I want to feel his kiss
instead of hear the whispers from his lips
to the sister of my blood, sister in the law,
How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful! Beloved, to me, only me…
and then one came. I named him Reuben:
he has seen my misery
My son… our child, a gift for a man
whose calloused hands are rough
on my back after this afternoon’s sun,
whose sunburned shoulders
carry two bales instead of one,
two… I will be loved now.
Reuben has his daddy’s eyes
and some of my father – the hands of a shepherd.
But I am not loved. I can feel the rolling hills
raise up their crops, tickle lambs’ feet—
years are grains of wheat,
harvests bountifully hollow,
fall, frost. Reuben plays on the floor
at my feet, I am crawling not loved.
The door clicks quietly in the night,
and Simeon: one who hears makes two for mercy,
for pity I am not loved.
What does she have? Not two sons
with wild hair, sucking thumbs and chasing
their father after dinner. Not two sons waiting,
sleeping, tucked under her blankets each night.
Not empty shadows, cold pillows and sheets,
this dense silence. My lover is hers – he browses
among lilies - I am not his – I finger the field
of dandelions with boys at my side,
wonder at this strange abundance.
Reuben and Simeon dart in and out
of the kitchen, call Dad! when the door opens.
His hands hug and hold them close.
Bread is on the table, I’m roasting lamb –
so hungry – my stomach swells,
eyes water, mouth dry. Levi: attached
Three. Now he will hold me close.
The boys grow tall and handsome,
just like their father. I watch Reuben
pick daffodils - it is spring, you know,
and the days are warm and bright.
Simeon finger-painted a stick woman smiling
and I taught him how to write M’s and O’s.
Levi is learning to walk, marching
like a soldier, and when he stumbles,
he doesn’t cry, only looks at me and laughs.
I have a fourth now. He came to me
three weeks ago, and he is beautiful -
he has my eyes and all his Father’s glory.
I know he will do great things, but for now,
he smiles, infects my soul.
I named him Judah: praise