Two poems by Liz Holland

Eden on Fire

God said, I am, and I felt

nothing. That god, assigned

male pronouns, is weak.

I never liked him. What deity

demands trust, while

commanding fear? Control

like an orchard lush

with ripe persimmons

not meant to eat, sprawling hedges

just high enough to block

any view. Eve always knew.

Her god said, I am,

and her cheeks flushed

red. Don’t fear delicious. Golden

apple skin reflects the banks of Tenerife

beyond the tall branches. Fuck

that chatty snake. There

is no courage without

a bite of rage. Speeding

barefoot, fully naked, wild

hair and a mouth full of

pulp, she leaves unsinged.

Forgive me, I’m no good at this.

-from ‘All She Wrote’ by Harryette Mullen

Answer your phone. I saw you called. Your message was short,

nothing urgent. Your voice was missing something. It’s tender.

Lost the edge like you lost your favorite pocketknife. You still have

twenty. I can’t read your notes. They look like drawings, your

knuckles are hiding all your words. You can’t read my card

on Father’s Day. You opened it; you can still smile. You ask

about my dog, you remember his name, you don’t remember

mine. I sent you coffee beans, dark molasses notes, small joy.

The trash stands by the door untied, so are your shoes. I can

take your shirts to the goodwill, they sell button downs. You

can’t get your new polo over your head, I help you. I meant

to take you to the beach, you always had time. I still do. I haven’t

been able to write. I crawl out of bed crying. I need to buy

tissues. I wanted to bring you lunch, they didn’t have salt

and vinegar kettle chips. I save your voicemails. You surrendered

your license for an ID. I drive you to the doctor. You let me

hold your hand. I find your missing pocketknife. You smile

like you remember.

Liz Holland's work has appeared in Marias at Sampaguitas, The Kraken’s Spire, Remington Review, and the Little Patuxent Review. Holland is an MFA candidate at the University of Baltimore. She lives in Baltimore with her fur-son Brax.

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