Have You Eaten of the Tree?

By Paul Hoover Paul Hoover

And the fourth river is the Euphrates

The first day was a long day
and the first night nearly eternal.
No thing existed, and only One was present
to perceive what wasn’t there.
No meaning as we know it;
difference was bound in the All.
On the first day, water,
on the second day, land,
on the third day, two kinds of light,
one of them night.
On the fourth day, laughter,
and darkness saw it was good.  
But when God laughed,
a crack ran through creation.
On the fourth night, sorrow,
staring away from heaven,
torn in its ownness.
No evidence then of nothing,
but worlds upon worlds,
underwritten, overflowing:
the worlds of fear and of longing,
lacking in belief,
and the pitiful world of love,
forever granting its own wishes.
Out of dust, like golems,
God created man and woman,
and cast them into chance.
And man was subdued in those days.
All that could leap, leapt;
all that could weep, wept.
First of all places, Eden;
last of all places, Cleveland;
and a river flowed out of Eden,
inspiring in the dry land
a panic of growth and harvest season.
The newly formed creation
took from flesh its beast
and from each word its sentence.
And early loves and hatreds blew
from thistle to thorn.
Each thing that God created,
he placed before man
so that he may name it:
cloudbank, hawk’s eye, lambkin,
and for each thing that man made,
God provided the name:
andiron, Nietzsche, corporation.
All speak of pain
subtle in its clamor,
as when the child, dying,
sinks into its skin
as under public snow.
Heartrending, each termination;
God-shaken, each beginning.
At the dawn of smoke,
pungent as creation,
the long chaos rises over these trees.
For we opened our eyes in Eden,
with the taste of fruit on our lips.

(Genesis)

Source: Poetry (June 2010).

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2010
 Paul  Hoover

Biography

Poet, editor, and translator Paul Hoover is the author of over a dozen collections of poetry including, The Novel: A Poem (1991), Totem and Shadow: New & Selected Poems (1999), Winter (Mirror) (2002), Edge and Fold (2006), Sonnet 56 (2009) In Idiom and Earth (En el idioma y en la tierra) (2012), which was translated by María Baranda and published by Conaculta Press in Mexico, and desolation : souvenir (2012).  He has also . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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