Excerpt from The Story of Jacob by William O’Daly


This short story appears in our Summer 2014 issue. The entire issue is available for download in digital format.

It came to pass, the young men cut down the trees
to feed the campfire and cookstove, to barter
for wares or wives, to make arrows and bows, clubs
and spears – they built the temples and great bonfires
as a gift to the gods; but in later years, they wearied
of wandering a desert of their own making, erected
houses and frivolous corrals for horses and sheep.
And the birds, having no place left
to rest or nest, to preen or sing a lullaby
to their young, tuned their chords to the same key
and leapt from the shores of Canaan
into the Mediterranean Sea – forsaking life
in Hebron and Schechem, Dothan and Kadesh,
prophecies of greener pastures in the land of Ramses.
Holding fast to the sunlit waves,
they learned to waggle their rapid tails,
kept still their fearless wings
and rose not from the branches or rooftops
but from the floating world – tilting to catch the breeze,
eluding the Man-of-War, the Great White.

William O'DalyWILLIAM O’DALY is a poet, translator, fiction writer, and editor. His publications, in addition to those in magazines, journals, and anthologies, include eight books of translation of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda and a chapbook of poems. A National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, O’Daly was a finalist for the 2006 Quill Award in Poetry. With co-author Han-ping Chin, he has completed a historical novel, This Earthly Life which was selected as a “Finalist” in Narrative magazine’s 2009 Fall Story Contest.

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