By Kim Garcia
In the morning as I put on clothes by the fire
I hear you pouring milk from bucket to pitcher
singing snatches of a song I don’t know.
Secrets on your face.
You’ve veiled yourself from me, Eve.
The taste in my mouth is sharp and bitter,
dead dust caught up by the plow
and blown into my face.
I have not forgotten your perfection.
Before you, I slept.
I sit on the step as the sun goes down.
My hands are gold in the last sunlight,
and then go dark.
The house glows white in the dusk,
and the tree above cracks and knocks its fingers
together in a light wind.
I think of you in the darkening house,
how we never speak together.
like stones falling, too stupid
with obedience to grieve. God waited
on my thoughts: my tongue
drenched with possibility.
The world began
to work at last, to turn over, to die
and stink of change, and birth up fresh dying,
to rot, to labor and begin again.
the names. I saw what might be or have been. Each
moment tied to the next in flesh, all breath kin.
No beast told me this because no creature knew it.
Only God’s fingers, that joyful grasping inside me,
could have seized such sight.
Only God within you
could have been tempted by it.
What evil can come
of such a joyful beginning?
It is a fresh-fallen world,
and Cain is master of it.
First tooth, first step, first word.
He will be second in nothing.
The raw yoke of the sun
runs warm light over his downy back.
The stone floor is furred with gold.
Cain’s day is fat and vigorous;
and what he sees, he possesses whole.
In the night his cradle rocks
under the open window
as he moves his heavy head,
round and white as the moon,
from side to side.
He dreams what all children will dream:
endless, indivisible dominion.
His small hands grip hard
against the rough cotton under his body.
Soft nails scratch quietly as they move.
The moonlight slides over his body
making the new down on his head
cold, bright silver
and all his body white with light.
Kim Garcia’s poetry collection Madonna Magdalene will be published by Turning Point Books this fall. She is the recipient of an AWP Intro Writing Award, a Hambidge Fellowship, and an Oregon Individual Artist Grant. She teaches creative writing at Boston College.