Jacob thought he held a terrible bird-
the dark feathers, the claws
at his throat, the constant calling,
calling. Then he heard his thighbone snap,
and the bird screamed in sympathy,
its fingers suddenly stretched and pushed
in the air. The bird groaned, "columbine"
and a field of red flowers grew around them.
Jacob reached towards the bird
twisted in the dirt, bald and gleaming,
and it whispered "chartreuse"
and the sky swirled. Jacob knew
he was in God’s territory,
and this was an angel; smaller
than he imagined, its bones brittle
as faith. The angel, trembling,
smoothing its feathers, coughed
"Israel" and suddenly the land
was sacred, the wilderness, home.
Jacob poked a stick at the angel’s throat
to make it speak, to see
if he could make the earth crack.