“Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” … Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” … So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”

Genesis 25:29-34

In the wake of hopes confounded

I have thought a lot

about the mess of pottage Esau ate

by selling off his birthright

to the cunning brother in the tent,

about the hunger

of the manly hairy Esau

so unfit within the tents of highbrow luxury,

about resentment at his mother

for disdaining him,

how perhaps his arrows were forever flying

vainly wide of running game,

how he loved that bow

and kept it with his arrows

safely by his bed,

how strangers came and squatted

in his free-range haunts,

about the desperation driving him

to grovel at his greedy brother’s feet,

how red the stew was in that steaming pot,

how blue the sky above his head,

how satisfied he must have felt

to eat that mess of beans and bread

that drove him to the deal

where he sold his birthright for a meal.