Eden Was Here
The far yellow hills
must seem large
to a woman walking them,
the yellow threads
sewn warm onto her feet.
–Melissa Kwasny, “The Origin of Music”
Eden is following your sister to the river, sneaking in the bow hatch
of her kayak so leaping white water won’t wash you down
Deubendorf, Bedrock, and Upset. It’s tracking
her hairpins round ponderosa pine
and aspen that quake until they turn
to western hemlock and Sitka spruce. When
she swims—take her wake,
don’t think about the cold—slush
you’d be pushing through if not for salt.
Eden is your inner ocean
and finding the chutzpah to float. It’s shark eyes
far enough away they’re black and close enough to see
still black. It’s the circle
sharks make before they draw
rows of spear-teeth, the time you get
to put on your stilettos.
Eden is arriving on the island
if your sister’s happy to see you—if she lets you check her feet
against yours, and the embroidered maps
on your soles match. If they don’t, and they won’t—
how could they?—savor warm rough rocks
against your head, legs, and back while she collects
colors with her eyes: drift wood, jelly fish, lady’s slipper,
pearly everlasting, bleeding hearts.
When mom left dad
we lost it. Who knows, really, what the first
leaving was and whose, but Mom, like Eve,
did the act that can still be seen,
the one that sends us searching.
Eden is having your head checked
and hearing, This one needs freedom.
Get her fellowships, grants—we need to see
the output of her thinking.
Eden is the one
you get to call yours. Mine has copper curls
sculpted from a chunk of clay-rich Osceola Mudflow. And Eden
is when he looks for Eden
without even knowing he looks, when sun catches
in his sun colored eyelashes.
Eden is learning to read
your lazy daisy, feather chain, twisted running stitch map,
finding you have one, and that,
though you aren’t hydrodynamically perfect
or virtually unevolvable for the past hundred and forty million years
like some, your feet can take you to trees.
Take hold and you will rise
so slowly you won’t even notice, watch
until Eden is just letting go.
Shira Richman has poems, short stories, essays, reviews, and interviews published or forthcoming in Pleiades, Copper Nickel, Third Coast, the Los Angeles Review, PANK, The Volta, Willow Springs, and elsewhere. She does layout and design for Burnside Review Press and Knockout literary journal. Currently she lives, teaches, and writes in Nuremberg, Germany.