It’s been ugly for so long it’s difficult to tell what’s beautiful anymore. A mother uses her body to shield her child from fire and the truest name we can give her is beauty. A tousle-haired boy agrees to give marrow to his baby brother and, when the needles are in, asks how long before he starts to die. We weep over the beauty of his spirit. A pulled violin string, an upswept arm, candlelight, the wind over warm prairie grass, an irreproducible daub of mixed oils and beauty bursts, seeping warm and liquid along our ribs, feeling like nothing so much as grief.
The breath of your first child over a tiny field of snowflakes, the glint of late afternoon sun behind cold and heavy clouds, his brown eyes, your noses so close they touch. This will never happen again. Can never happen again. Could not be felt this way by anyone else in any era or universe. Singular. Untouchable.
And made by expiration. We drink milky tea across a small table in a neighborhood coffee shop. We share a gender but little else. Still, we tell— about yesterday’s pain, walking toward tomorrow, doubt. She will not live to see my children graduate, may not live to see my daughter start kindergarten. Even as I waste my sentences, I miss her. And am so angry that this evening burns with beauty, is embers from ashes.
We came from a beautiful garden. A place where work wasn’t striving, purple evenings where the twilight was never lonely, nights where I could fall asleep naked under the canopy, the distance between my skin and the stars untiled by cold.
I cannot imagine this. Cannot imagine how we could abide there. Even its beauty now is born of aching, planted in the loam of longing. How can it be real and still exist?
Eden. We’ve lived east of it for so long, we’re no longer fit. We’re un-fit. Lucifer at least fell, plummeted beyond reach of paradise; a star in the basement is wasted, but conceivable. We lost paradise. Lost it. Like we’re wandering around the house we’ve lived in since birth looking for a new room. Did we build it and forget the entrance? Was it built outside our knowing, the doorway unconnected to this dwelling? But as a lean-to? Or an outbuilding? If Eden’s unconnected to our home how can it be anything other than a safe place to dump our waste or house our beasts?
When my daughter cries out in the night and I rock her, brushing aside her feathery hair and whispering “You’re safe. You’re safe,” am I telling the deepest lie or the most shallow truth?
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