Rachel sits on her father’s gods

There are texts which never make their way into the Revised Common Lectionary and yet call to me with some contemporary significance. Genesis 31: 19-35 is such a story and one that I have been thinking about since U.S. Father’s Day because it says something to me about generations and sacred stuff.

Rachel sits on her father’s gods …

to hide the fact
that she has stolen them
(little good they ever did her,
beautiful and loved and barren).
She rests her menstruating,
so she tells the shifty patriarch,
and cannot rise
to honor him.

Rachel smiles, smug,
proud of discovering the way
that daughters
can render their parents godless.
She crosses her arms
under her breasts.

Leaning back on the camel bag,
she dreams of mandrakes
so sweet, she does not yet dream
of another pregnancy
and a child named Sorrow.

It is the vocation of youth
to take the gods away
and unmask stifling idolatries
of the past –

the rituals of religion, prestige,
patriotism,
the styles of music,
danced once, laughed at now,
books that promised money,
political parties that promised truth,
science that expected
to save the world
the familiar econo-theologies.

There are always jacobs and rachels
who meet by wells,
and kiss and plot and love
as if it were original.
They laugh at the desperate search
of their elders for a lost and
holy booty.

Amused and sitting on old dead stones,
mute in a camel bag,
they do not yet imagine

weeping for their children.

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10 Responses to Rachel sits on her father’s gods

  1. Pam Spain says:

    Very powerful!

  2. A magnificent poem – worth reading many, many times over –

  3. Betsy says:

    So true…as a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother I have wept. Now my children weep and I can hold them perfectly understanding their sorrow.

  4. Andrea (aka Rokinrev) says:

    This is an amazing poem. Very reminisent of The Red Tent substory of Rachel and the idols

  5. sugruerm says:

    Powerful thoughts that link not only to ‘The Red Tent’ but also to Jen in ‘The League of Lilith’

  6. Maren says:

    Goodness — there are circles within circles here!

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