Peniel (For Seth)

Wrestle with me
God of Jacob wrestle with me let my heels
grind deeper and yet deeper in the sod
feel the nightmoist bank
bunch and buckle beneath the curl of my foot bracing
against the calf-trembling weight of your leaning

Wrestle with me God of Jacob
straining shoulder in sweat slick stomach
Whose limbs these, that rise
and strain against
starchilled skies?

Sleepless, I lie
Cramped, clenched,
clutching at nothing
Let me feel the ache and sweat of your effort
Shadow elusive you are
ineluctable as truth
as water through fists
leaving less trace of your passing
easier, though, to drown in
than that Jordan you fought beside with him

You wrestled with him
kneeling, grime smeared, in the mire
dawn breaking over river and thigh
desert and brother
Wrestle with me

Dislocated, I lie
dawn breaking
over blankets and legs
pages and fists
you have never touched my hip
never called the dislocated home
never answered my defiance
nor yet pushed back

Richard Vernon had worked at Sojourners since 1994, and led the poetry club at Sojourners Neighborhood Center, when this article appeared.

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