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.