AND THE GROUND OPENS

ITS MOUTH TO SPEAK

jessica jacobs

       “And now, cursed are you from the ground

       that opened its mouth to take your

       brother’s blood from your hand.”

                                                      —God to Cain, Genesis 4:10-11

 

Dear wandering dust, dear vagrant clay,

dear humans made of me,

 

how quickly you’ve forgotten.

I am not just a backdrop

for your horrors—

 

read your holy book: Stars and trees

go to battle, hills mourn, valleys

and waves tremble and writhe

 

at the approach of God. And how

many of your slaughtered

have I choked down? I’ve borne

 

witness to the forests

you’ve razed, evicting owls, salamanders,

wolves, building your homes

 

in hills just waiting

to be wildfires. I am trying

to warn you. For every season,

 

I send wrong weather, drain

reefs of their color, let whole species

go extinct. Yet you go on. Enough.

 

Too much. You are no longer

the protagonist of this story.

So try this other one:

 

Seeing something he wanted

on the other side

of the road, a boy dropped

 

his mother’s hand

and ran into the onslaught

of traffic. She screamed

 

his name, rooted there, unable

to look away. At the clamor

and rush, at a mirror hissing

 

so close past his ear it raised

the small hairs inside it,

he ran back to her. Weeping,

 

she slapped him hard; weeping,

he pressed the heat of his cheek

to her chest. That slap?

 

I am so tired

of being afraid

for you.

Jacobs.jpeg

jessica jacobs

is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going (Four Way Books), winner of the Devil’s Kitchen and Goldie Awards, and Pelvis with Distance (White Pine Press), a biography-in-poems of Georgia O’Keeffe, winner of the New Mexico Book Award. Chapbook Editor for Beloit Poetry Journal, she lives in Asheville, NC, with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown, with whom she co-authored Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire (Spruce Books/PenguinRandomHouse), and is at work on a collection of poems exploring spirituality, Torah, and Midrash.

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