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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 70-72

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Jacob and the Angel, and: The Promised Land

Jacob and the Angel

after Yehuda Amichai
She balanced on a ledge,
a stony lip
between desire and doubt,

between hope and anger,
her eyes scouring
my face as shadows

wavered at her feet.
"Come," I said.
"It's time to let go

of your fears," but she
flinched, wrapping
her arms around her breasts.

The moon spread
its silky sheet
over white sand.

If she had wings,
they quivered behind her
in the cool night air.

If she had blood
it pulled her downward
toward the restless waves, [End Page 70]

toward the earth, waiting
for her return. When
she came to me at last,

the scent of persimmon,
almonds and figs
floated through the night

and a wind passed over my thighs,
and a slow heat rose
through the soles of my feet.

Then I knew her
name and cried out,
falling beneath her.

The Promised Land

after Amir Gilboa
When I found my father
after so many years of wandering
and showed him the right way to go,
he put his arm around my shoulder
and called me "son."

Crows flew up,
announcing my triumph to the hazy sky.
My lovers arose
from their blankets and saluted me. [End Page 71]

Shelley, my first love, was there, recalling
our night in the weeds, among the crickets.
And there was Mick from Granite City,
reciting my list of failures
and pining for the man
who dumped her for another.

And there was beautiful Sarah,
who cut off her long black hair
and wouldn't get out of bed for weeks.
And Jennifer with her pillowy thighs,
who left me with a little dust
in my hands and some change
shining on the sill.

I unfolded my map,
drawing stars on our path in charcoal.
"You're such a boy," he said
and pointed the way back,
where she who loved me
still waited.

Jeff Friedman is the author of Record-Breaking Heat Wave (BkMk P), Scattering Ashes (Carnegie Mellon UP) and Taking Down the Angel (Carnegie Mellon UP). His latest collection Black Threads is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press.



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