Dog Dead and Wife Away
What think'st thou then of me, who am alone
From all eternity…? Paradise Lost 8.403-406
These vacations of hers—
they put her back if only for a week
in Eden. Reef-diving, wall-diving—in her blue skin
immortal, if bionic, for a while.
And yet these myriad plants now his alone
to water—what are they if not
a garden? No, not paradise …
But absent Eve, was Man's first garden bliss?
A spiritless gardener, Adam would water the plants,
perennials and herbs, and see his want:
fit other hands, whose nursery it was.
The Lord—was he poor company or what?
Up like a canna he'd blaze in the cool of the day
and strut, a gamecock practicing human.
What a gabbler! This voluble Word
had only to open his throat and out spilled
a creature for Adam to name. A wolf!
What wolf—where was that alpha dog?
Haunted as if by loss,
Adam already knew exile.
As if the Garden were a yard to work
and potted plants to water—annuals,
which ornamented patio and deck.
Delight was her abode, a far Tortuga
where Eve was still a breath without a rib.
Where she too is—no thunderclouds,
no fronds of feathery lightning
to parry the flourish of coconut palms,
nor in the white sand's somersaults
the rumor of weather—she in her blue skin,
the rib's red soil washed off. While here
even the faintest whisper's to be believed,
and he gives ear to the rumble, a throat
clearing. Already Tobit, even when deaf,
would have caught wind of the thunder—
that thin-skinned sack of loose, sharp bones
become all nerves, panting and drooling, wedged
between their legs and the sofa while they sat
on edge, for jump they must not do, but stay
above the clash for the sake of the dog
prayerfully trembling. Now it's ashes,
snug though they are in their sack of blue velvet,
ashes that tremble. He sees them,
his mind's eye piercing the cupboarded dark—
sleep's white sands roused by a nightmare's wild weather—
and pictures himself as if alone
from all eternity, a one-man band
who makes the wind to wail and the rain to jangle
and wears on his knees the lightning …
while still on edge as if once dust and now
a mannequin of weeping clay, whose red
heart promises, when cymbals crash, to jump.