after lines from Cesare Pavese’s “Grappa in September”
Her problem, of course, is that she was never a child,
and so hadn’t the opportunity
to know the tree as a sapling, to climb
its branches, bark roughing her thighs, but only
viewed it with the distance of an adult.
Now it’s a question of staying on task with the story
of suffering a great pain. To climb
perhaps another higher tree,
and look back into Eden at the lost crown,
to paint what she remembers later
of that last day: the sky’s blue witness, the leaves slick, glistening.
And the snake—had the snake not spoken? Was it
her imagination, trick of the shadows?
She must variegate the color of bark: siennas, umbers,
ochers, reds, even green moss. Branches
may break off during their lifespans,
may be riddled with knots, regrets.
Cover her right eye and look with the left,
then reverse: each eye sees color differently.
How does she paint the temptation? Every limb and leaf
of before and after? The fulcrum where everything
stops to ripen? Regret a tart yellow.
Black for secrets. Her children must know that the ochres and umbers
even now conceal fruit that would fall at a touch.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 4.
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