Poem for Leah and Rachel

The Lectionary for July 30 includes the story of Leah and Rachel and Jacob. This is a hard story for me to engage with; the patriarchy and polygamy, the treatment of these two women is sometimes more than I can see past. There is much to learn from the story, but as a (modern, feminist) woman I must acknowledge the elephant there: two young powerless women being traded by their father for field labor, without their consent, determining the course of their lives. It arouses my own sorrow for the continuing plight of women in the world.

There are times when I can engage with a difficult text seamlessly. And sometimes not. This one was a not this week. So instead, I wrote a poem. Because, as a friend of mine who is a priest says, "If you can't make it happy, make it beautiful."


We made you work for it
But we were worth it.
You didn’t get exactly what you wanted at first
But in the end, you were happy.

We didn’t control our fate.
We had no say in whether, or when, we were given to you.

You obviously had a favorite.
Everyone knows that.
But we served you well
For little reward.
And you did the work. You agreed to the plan.
Because we were so valuable to you.

Plan A didn’t work out -
You were given second best;
A saboteur got the better of you,
While you, in your lust, weren’t paying attention.
Plan B got you your beloved,
Who was barren for the longest,
But beautiful and graceful
And resentful.

None of this was perfect. None ideal.
But you became rich anyway, a father of many.
We were jewels among your hoard,
Breeders among your flock.
Your 14 years of labor
Paid your penance.

Who is Jacob
To complain about his inheritance?