“Jacob’s Seed,” Ensign, Mar. 1974, 52
I found you.
James Baker wrote it hastily, your name
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,
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,
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.