Second Curse


Mine was a gaunt love
lean as hungry cattle,
a herd flowing like guilt

through bloody reeds —
but that was yet to come.
I could grow wonders then

in fields I cleared of thorns
(these the first curse),
but He rewarded blood,

and I, the oldest, was refused
before the second curse,
before the ground

dried like a thirsting mouth
and dust followed my steps
dutiful as fever.

I thought I understood:
For he who loves a son
or daughter more than me

is not worthy of me,
and I raised Abel up,
fed him milk I craved,

taught him his steps,
to tend the cows, kept
the harder toil for myself.

How he crumbled in my arms —
I gave of blood precious to me
and in return got a life’s desert,

shadeless rocks, these thickets
I search for starving beasts
that I may slay and eat.

This poem is, of course, a re-telling of the Cain story. He’s still a murderer, but not for the reason we thought.

It was published in 2000. After this, I stopped sending out until 2011.


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