On: My Poem, “Leah” (Randyjw; May 12, 2017)
This poem was generated based on the thoughts and imagery which had vividly popped into my head, just prior to its writing. It is based on the Biblical story of Leah and Rachel, and its theme is a common one to me — one which I’ve considered writing about in book form, more extensively.
It is written with my own experiences and feelings in mind, some of which I find particular more to adopted and blended families, as such; the less-favored child shunted aside, whether at home, or in being chosen amongst their peers for the sports team or the group leader. It is also about the favored child harboring a sort of “survivor’s guilt” for always being considered the “golden child” above everyone else, with the attendant guilt of feeling that their own status relegates others to a lesser status, rather than equality. In my life, I have held both.
I write for others, as well as for myself. My poetry is a composite of my imagination, experience and creativity. Sometimes, it is written solely for rhyme or meter. This particular piece is peculiar to myself; imagery, heritage and personal experience. Its direction was singular, and could be broad-based, as well — but was not — at least, this time — meant or directed to a specific person.
I’m not sure if I could publish a book with one of those obligatory disclaimers, as my work really often is for/about/to someone in particular. I suppose this is the “judgement” stuff I hate, which features heavily in much of the poetic community’s body of work, and of which I find myself engaging in, at times, too. Several female writers/poetesses have been either the inspiration or the subject of a few of my own pieces; I’m not sure all self-identified.
My Hebrew name is Rachel, yet I often feel as one might expect should be the feelings of Leah. Rachel and Leah are progenitors of the Jewish tribes of Israel. Their story is written in the Bible, and their story is the embodiment of my ancestral lineage.
Being an adopted Jewish child without knowledge of specific identifying details of my birth parents places me in a broader human gene pool from which my sense of self, in addition to my adoptive parents’ ministrations, has been plucked. My older brother, also Jewish and adopted at around 3 years of age, I was told, was the unfavored child, compared with myself, in my family. He had a mostly horrible life. I could not, in the end, save him, and he passed away, from cancer, as my father had. I am now living portions of his life. I would have rather it had all been me, and not he — but that is not how it unfolded during our lifetimes.
Leah is the older sister of Rachel, daughters of the man named Lavan. Lavan lives in Haran, and is the sister of Rivkah (Rebeccah), who is mother to Jacob and Esau. Jacob was sent to live with Lavan, to seek out a bride from amongst his people there, and to escape the wrath of his brother, Esau, for having received the blessings from his father, which should have been Esau’s by birth order of the firstborn.
Jacob sets eyes on Rachel, and falls in love with her. Lavan’s “brideprice” for his daughter is Jacobs’ labor of seven years. But, it was considered an impropriety to marry a daughter out of birth order, and so Leah was given, beneath the veil and the tent, on the eve of the wedding. Jacob still desired to marry Rachel, and thus worked another seven years for her hand, as well.
Leah knew that she was not the favored wife of Jacob, and G-d helped console her by making of her a mother who gave birth to six children. Rachel was loved, but she could not conceive during these early years, and would only do so late in life, her second child, Binyamin (“Ben oni”), being her last, after which she died on the way to Efrat. She is buried in her own tomb, where she died (the site wrongly being accorded a heritage site of the “Palestinians” by the United Nations), rather than in the Cave of Machpelah, in Hevron, where the other Patriarchs are buried (another site wrongly given to the “Palestinians”).
A great deal of myself is in this story, as well.
May we celebrate joy in families and in motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day. In gratitude, with love, to all whom I could ever call “Mother” and all who would call me “daughter”, or any other beloved name.
“Jacob”; May 12, 2017; last edited by Llightex; Wikipedia.org
“”Leah”; May 12, 2017; last edited by Space-Age Meat: