Two poems by Carrie Cutler
He lay there, looking so unlike himself,
black curls drifting in the breeze
where they were not matted down. The red
passion that had gripped me left and I watched
him sleep, one hand curving near his mouth.
Abel sucked his thumb for the longest time
no matter how many times I pulled it out.
He finally stopped a few years ago, as his shoulders
began their sweeping climb, dusted with sudden hair.
His hair lay flat, the toying breeze departed, and I decided
to wake him; this flat stretch of rock was no place to take
a nap. His leg flopped boneless where I pushed it. I grabbed
his ankle to shake and called his name. He was too still.
I yelled but nothing stirred him. He only rolled
a little when I kicked him. Abel would not wake up.
I have been hit harder than this; many times has Adam
cuffed my head for some noise on the hunt. I learned
quickly. My offering I bought from days of silence. The scarlet
strip of the back, the rich liver, my bark basket took the finest;
we ate the rest. Why should his fruit be better than my meat and sweat?
Abel did not breathe, like a doe he lay, long neck curved away
from me. Like a doe, I bound his hands to his feet. I heaved him
to my shoulders. This altar was no place to sleep. I carried Abel
to his fruit trees and covered him in the white blossoms,
piling the dimpled globes in his hollowed hands.
It was the least I could do. Perhaps the tree
would find him useful; I did not know what it would eat.
When Elohim came looking for me later, it was like he always appears;
one second it is only you, then there he is and you are drowning
in god. He said he was looking for Abel, but I knew it was a set-up.
Am I, I asked, am I my brother's keeper? I have always been Abel’s
keeper, his shadow. I slapped the tears, the pain from him
so that Adam would not hear.
After Elohim told me what he intended for me, it was almost a relief.
To never see another face, to live the restless eons down to nubs;
this is what I imagined my mother’s garden to be like, so beautifully empty.
I will eat the fruit of Abel’s tree.
So this is what it’s like, to be god.
These mothers line up, clamoring to marry
their daughters to a wealthy man, each new
blushing virgin after a few months
going to my closet. I tell a new story every time
and go out seeking a faithful companion. A few
outraged mothers linger outside my gates, but I
can always go to another town. If my new bride
does as I tell her, she’ll never even see them waiting.
But they never do. They always peek. I give them
the keys and stretch a long hair across the door.
After a few months, I always find it broken. Isolated,
away from family and never allowed to make friends,
they are easy to find. A quick stroke and they join the silent chorus
in that room. I love my collection, each head
carefully preserved and dressed. It’s the only time
they are ever truly pleasing.
This new one troubles me. She is compliant enough, I suppose
but when she looks at me, something is ticking away behind her eyes.
I have never come home to find her doing anything; the hair
remains unbroken, but she looks at me like she knows.
The other day I found her sharpening the meat cleaver,
over and over, keening slowly to match the grind. When
she saw me, she stopped suddenly and just watched me
until I left. Oddly, the vultures outside the gate
are gone as well. I suppose they must have just gotten tired.
The girl offers to sing me to sleep. She bids me lay
my head in her lap. It is good.