To Wrestle With the Irresistible
Holy Angels Chapel of Saint-Sulpice, Paris
It’s daybreak in the painting that Delacroix took twelve years
to complete. In the foreground, near two immense trees,
Jacob, who is turned away from us, wrestles with the angel,
resolute with his wings. Nearby, on the ground, a heap of clothes
Jacob has cast off for the hand-to-hand agon that’s lasted all night.
To the right, Jacob’s continuous caravan of sheep, shepherds...
gifts for Esau to appease his anger. One horse turns back,
the only one to notice these two, locked in furious embrace.
The angel’s hand, visible on Jacob’s thigh. The other hand,
clasping Jacob’s and raised high in the air. Disappearing
beyond a bend, a faraway woman holds a jar on her head.
We think we hear the angel say Let me go, for day is breaking.
Jacob, straining against him, wounded and taut, will refuse.
Not until you bless me. The imminence of the blessing.
Bonnie Naradzay leads poetry workshops at the Department of Corrections, at a day shelter for homeless people, and at a retirement centre, all in Washington DC. Poems have appeared in New Letters, Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, Poet Lore, JAMA, Anglican Theological Review, Split This Rock, The Ekphrastic Review, The Northern Virginia Review, The Seminary Ridge Review, Pinch, and others. In 2010, she was awarded the New Orleans MFA Program’s Poetry Prize: a month’s stay in Ezra Pound’s daughter’s castle in Dorf Tyrol (northern Italy). She earned an MA from Harvard in 1969, an MFA in poetry from the University of Southern Maine in 2010, and an MA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College (Annapolis) in 2017.
The Ekphrastic Review
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