Jacob’s Seed

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“Jacob’s Seed,” Ensign, Mar. 1974, 52

Jacob’s Seed

First-Place Poem
1974 Relief Society-Ensign Writing Contest

I found you.

James Baker wrote it hastily, your name

(Aily, Jacob)

It was work to him, but he

Has let me know I’m Jacob’s seed.

Now I sit with microfilm

Hazily enlarged before my eyes.

The words are dim and blurred—

Not so my mind.

I see a wild, close-timbered hill,

Tennessee, before highways and power lines.

A weathered cabin.

(Southern Division, Jefferson County)

A sun-browned man you must have been,

(Occupation: Farmer)

Wise through work, hard times, and life

(Age: 65; Born: Virginia)

Sitting on the porch steps in the sun

(Census made: 30 October 1850)

Watchful of this stranger as you talk

(Mountain men are hesitant to speak.)

Around the corner peeks a black-haired boy.

(Tyler, 7, cannot read or write)

He eyes with curiosity the man

Who writes his father’s name, and wears

A store-bought suit of clothes.

Tyler grew up dark and strong,

As I imagine you.

Uncle Taylor told me tales of him!

A shy-eyed woman watches from the door.

(Female: Rachel, 45)

I sense with something close to awe

That she is also watching me.

My eyes are wet as I rewind the film,

Gather up my things, and drive on home.

For weeks I think of you.

We’re close again, your family and me,

Forever now.

I type the sheets, put them in the mail.

I feel your spirits walking here with me—

Mine may have walked with you in Tennessee.

Illustrated by Howard Post