They’ll only get the future wrong
The arrangement will never fit
The jug of lemonade the animals
In the field the eternity of fog

But walking along past the tennis court
Abel suddenly turns and Cain sees that he’s dead
That among yesterday’s shadows the parameters
Of bliss they’ll always be twin figures
Circling tomorrow’s earth

That what never happens and always happens
Are one and the same

And if at twilight in Eden
The gaunt birds are hungering they’ll bring nothing back
They’ll take nothing away

In these tales
Cain always wonders what Abel feels
Whether the heart’s burnt out
Whether it still glows in the perfect chest

But Abel says nothing there’s nothing to say

In dour solitude
Cain clings to the albums of frost
The slaughter of stones telling himself I’m nowhere
I survive that even in hell dreams are separate

Sicles of silver
Never alter the dust on a hill…

At the casino of a small village
Abel places his bets on the shrouded table

As always he’s awarded another round

At the edge of a cliff
Emotionless in his car Cain clears his throat
Wondering if finally they might have peace

But Abel is ageless
His tears no release

Bald and alone
Cain jets to Miami deals at the bar
Plunges with another wife
In the harsh surf

And it’s almost as if
The roots of quicksilver
Were changing to phlox
The coral of the sun
Deepening with lilies
The first cry far off the funeral unknown
And a plate of raspberries
In childhood awaits them
Beneath the cool berth of an oak…

The cities of Cain
In these continual civil wars
Are always the same

At the gates of the forest
The wolves lost to the mouths of the rifles
A butcher’s flag grazing the harbor
The prophets in the square digging the pits

Only as the fever rises
At the end of the cemetery
He goes over and over the injuries
The injustices of god
In no hurry at last to argue the dawn
The spoilt pastures the stiffening poppies
The one breath left
That could greet his own
The torn face
Cruel yet never more innocent

So again he enters
The welcoming night

The bent grass whispering
It’s right it had to be

The woman on the steps
The children in her arms
The old man in disgust
As he curses the ground

And Abel among the drinks and hors d’oeuvres
The scent of dung in the air smiles at his brother
And Cain in heaven moves darkly before him
Under the green mist of the awakening stars

This Issue

May 3, 1979