The beasts walked with me before they knew their names.
How were we to know?
Good and evil and the difference between
are points on a map as yet unwritten.
All was yours, Lord.
We were yours, for a time, before the flaming sword.
We could not be anything other than this, could we?
Did you ordain this exile from the throne,
and did the angels laugh at our weak hearts?
For we are not all muscle and bone.
There is some light in us also.
Is fear what happens
when you love something so much
that you do not want to lose it?
Lord, I fear you and all this.
Perhaps you love us like this, as well.
I would have drunk the seas so she would not weep.
If the ocean was in me, she would have a safe place to leave the salt.
But the waters will always be yours,
and I will never be master of the waves.
Perhaps your mercy is that despite
the flaming sword and poisoned apple,
we are still here, and we will have children that will love us
like we loved the Lord.
Nay, they will love us like we are man and woman,
and that will be enough.
We did not know until the door was shut
what it was we left behind.
Lord, love that did not seem to be just yours
came into the spaces where nothing had come—
where you forgot to fill us.
I do not grudge the flaw.
The woman who reminds me of you let loose all evil,
but I think I would have done the same
if I did not have this fear of all things.
But now every note is giv’n voice with my tongue,
the cup o’er-flowing when she fills it.
I forget the pockmarks I find in clean clay
and make something that is just as good,
and has a use besides.
There is grass sprouting stalwart
in the cracks between rock and brick
in the walls we built ourselves.
In paradise, there was no rotten must-straw,
no breath of cattle lowing soft,
loving the last fond vague touch
before the little death of the night.
In paradise, there was no small gorse-bush, no autumn, frost and cicada shell,
brown mouse freezing in field and crunch of fish-scale underfoot.
There was only you, and it was good.
I have learned to plead the hens for eggs since then,
repent my sins to the cow for milk and kiss my wife so gently,
call the birds and wait for their coming,
stalwart stay—I love the fish a little fonder,
that they flit away.
Leave us here awhile, to clear the muddled leaves from the path.
We had no work till now.
© 2015 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.