The Garden of Her Absence

 

The Archangel Michael lays down his fiery sword.

He rests beside the Gate, chin cradled

on slender fingers, eyes black with pity.

Go on, he nods, then churns the pale air,

monstrous ivory wings pulling skyward

and away, his eternal station moot

before my solitary return.  Then I

pass through, entering the garden of her absence.

 

This is the realm between Lillith and Eve, between

Eve and the one who must follow – Not even

God has shown His face here since the Fall.

Whoever thought I’d be back – complaining again

about a woman?  You really blew it

this time, I’d like to say, and not

hear the Old Man’s niggling, It was

your rib, as I recall.  You taught

 

Her everything she knows – As if

that explained something – As if

having shared so intimate a bonding

made clear betrayals, justified her storms

of leavings, lies, of crying outs old Moses

will never bother to record.  As if

Know Thyself were not three thousand years

from being spoken, let alone observed.

 

It’s autumn in the garden of her absence.

The Tree of Knowledge, Good and Evil, weeps

blood that swirls around me like a whisper

of her name.  Those Pagans no one mentions

kindly in these times are pounding drums

across the Outer Darkness, leaping fires,

calling up ghosts.  I sense her touch

upon my shoulder, turn, find only God,

 

His countenance more hot than shining.  Here

I am, home again, alone again,

pockets empty, hands out to Daddy.

Where’s your friend?  As if He hadn’t seen it

written in the dust He gave His breath

in molding me, predicted in the bones

He rolled to bring her forth – our bitterness

like apples out of season falling not

 

So far from Abba’s tree.  One has to wonder

a triune God, three faces wholly male –

What ghostly woman stirs His hand?  What memory

long denied seeps cold into the clay

of His every creation?  Love, then loss,

then loneliness, repeating like a song –

What Goddess’ voice enchants Him from Her distance,

rebounding like an echo to His sons?

 

The Tree of Life sighs weary of its burden.

From Gate to wall, this orchard of neglect

groans beneath the weight of fruit gone ripe

to bursting on the branch, the season turning

its clock behind His back. I sense her hiding,

I answer, finally, there beyond the sun,

behind the trees, beneath the grass Perhaps

there in your robes…  The old magician turns,

 

Plucks from my side a rabbit, golden coins

rain from my ears, an endless stream of scarves

flow from my sleeves, lifted by twin doves

who once had been mere buttons.  I would like

to be impressed, as I was in my youth,

by tricks whose secrets I once hoped to guess,

when innocence was newly lost, and trembling

rage and flaming swords left their mark

 

On memory, those days when she was all

the miracle I needed to believe

in every gaff and sleight, in every card

He guessed, to let Him think He got it right,

when gratitude came easy, and her face

made casting out a trivial affair,

when all the God-forsaken world was ours

to shape as children sculpt the night in dreams;

 

But tricks lead like a circle to this garden.

God’s sweating as He shovels from the earth

a woman’s shape.  His beaded brow inspires

in me only grief.  For all His showman’s

dazzle, huffing this one into life,

all I see, with each turn of the trowel:

the vacant grave emerging in its wake.

Should I spurn this golem, would His heart

 

Follow my descent into that dark

tomb, her name a torch upon my tongue?

Or if I lay my earthen body heavy

atop the mound He’s building, beg the rains

to wash this repetition back to mud –

will His throat take up the prayer I’m singing

for Him, for me, to some more ancient God

of Harvest to reclaim this land, some Goddess,

 

Circling in the ever-faithful moon,

to touch us both as hidden streams of water

secretly feed deserts?  Somewhere blooming

beyond this fallen landscape there must lie

a garden of Her presence, golden apples,

pregnant with the promises of youth,

crowning loyal fingertips, still raising

Her shameless question to our wounded mouths.

 

Copyright © 2016 Jack Preston King.

Jack Preston King retains all rights to this work, granting Fickle Muses one-time, non-exclusive electronic publication rights. Please contact the creator to request permission for reprints or other uses of this work.

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