February 27, 2020

Poem: Vayishlach

Somewhere along the Jabbok River
which has a different name if you come
from the other side of the family
Jacob leaves half his family
to meet his long-lost brother
from whom he’d taken everything.

Somewhere along the river
a wrestling match occurs.

Team Jacob versus team unknown man.

Team unknown man’s
only advantage, besides anonymity,
is pressure against Jacob’s thigh.

A pain he would feel for days.

A familial pain we still feel when
the heart is not tended to.

Thousands of years later
it is Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania.

Two cousins wrestle in front of a football game.

Team seven year old
versus team a year and a half.

They both hold their own.

No river between them.

One carries the other into
the room with the big people.

Nothing but smiles.

Back in history Jacob takes on a new name
is kissed by his long-lost brother
despite the incidents with the soup
and the fake hair, in which
everything was taken.

A matriarch and a patriarch pass away.

Even our first family is impermanent,
is subject to burial on the side of the road.

Somewhere along the Jabbok River
brothers are always brothers
no matter which bank they walk along

No matter
what tongue they use
to say its name.


Rick Lupert, a poet, songleader and graphic designer, is the author of 23 books including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion.”