CAIN AND ABEL
When I praise God, I offer Him what’s best:
The answer to the glory of His will.
He made me so I’d yearn to pass His test,
And bow my head to the invisible.
And this is good, and thus I too am good.
How else but know these things? How else but see
That I live here because God says I should?
I get my value from His faith in me.
When I speak thus, Cain doesn’t like my talk.
He likes to question everything: as if
To do so is what makes a human life.
Do I do everything for God’s own sake?
Yes, I say, yes. I gather up my song
That serves as prayer, and proves my brother wrong.
And when I open my eyes, I love the earth.
I love the trees, the sky, the stars, the air.
It seems that I remember my own birth,
The way I knew already how I’d tear
Into existence, make a place for who
I was. Yet Abel doesn’t value choice;
If God’s the sound, then Abel is the echo.
I told him that he has to have a voice
To realize himself. Why was he made?
What makes him different from a hill or tree?
Why can’t he see the world and be like me?
Yet he cannot. He’s on the side of God,
The way a shadow trails behind the light.
To live, I have to understand what’s right.
If I am chosen over Cain, my brother,
If the way I represent myself is held in
More esteem; if I am favored by my Father,
If Cain calls out, but never is called in,
What’s that to me? I am superior.
Listening to God, I find that Cain is weak,
His mind erected as a barrier
Between what’s selfish and what is at stake.
I cannot help but say that he is lost.
I’m pure as clouds, and speak with God’s own blessing.
He speaks as what? Himself? What is the cost?
To be the one in whom something is missing.
He tells me that’s not true, explains his thirst.
I tell him I improve what was made first.
He looks at me; his eyes are like a knife.
No one can see the evil there in him.
You cannot spit on someone else’s life.
You cannot be so cold, or speak in dim
And abstract ways. In blood I feel such shame.
How can this distant voice be my own brother?
How can we be so different yet the same?
When I see him, it’s like I see the weather:
A force that happens, nothing that is kin.
Yet he is chosen, when he is much less.
I am rejected, because I am not he.
I cannot give another offering when
The cost of it would leave me standing, speechless.
How can a man obey and still be free?
If I’d been told my body would be open
To the air, it’s true I would have been surprised.
God didn’t tell me anything would happen;
God didn’t tell me that I’d soon be eased
From this life. Now I understand what Cain
Once said about the beauty of the earth.
Look at my flesh: a miracle of pain
And joy, the mysteries of death and birth.
If I could thank Cain now I would, for I
Would tell him now I know just what he said.
I miss the touch of earth beneath my feet.
I’m part of God, yet soul without a body
Is cold. The who-I-was in Abel’s dead.
I’m floating, loose, within the infinite.
I thought that, once he died, I could go on.
And yet I find that everything’s the same.
Each day there’s light and dark; each day the sun
Rises and falls, and speaks my brother’s name.
My guilt has changed the face of everything.
He didn’t know himself, but God made him
The way that he made me. That one fact stung
The two of us. Now blood itself has come
To take the place of all our violent words.
I loved my brother, though he was a stone.
I loved him, though we were two different men.
One simple issue broke us into shards:
To question or obey? I know the cost
When all of love’s vast argument is lost.
The mark of grandeur is a grab for power,
Mixed in with myth, a phallocentric tower,
A restlessness, a love of quantity,
The gold that drips from monetary honey.
And yet what makes us love, perhaps admire,
A man like this, his stuffing set on fire,
Is a penchant for what’s common, ornamental,
A heart that weeps for what is sentimental.
In that way, he’s like us. Absorbed in moves,
His wife arranges puzzles in their grooves
In rooms that speak vast whispers of the dead.
Here lies another Ozymandias,
Whose will and past swirl down, like snow, to us.
And he rides, lonely, on a childhood sled.
The seasons are ensnared with suffering.
It’s hard to speak of one without the other.
There are those who can be caught on just one thing,
And feel the pull and tug of choke and tether.
Yet once the fallen world is re-imagined,
There is grace. The seasons are a cycle,
Where the moment that is genuflected, keened—
The bitter-tongued unfairness of debacle—
Undoes the origami of its frond
And supplicates the edges of beyond.
The seasons have an archetypal plot,
Like us: and from the garden in our lot,
The soul inside the envelope of human.
The Word was made to open and illumine.