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
that 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.  

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