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A Gradual Eden
After the lava had cooled, hardened
like a carapace over the fresh-earth
graves of our marriages,
nothing happened for a while.
Sure, you and I still talked all night,
once dared to walk arm-in-arm
like a real couple to the Vietnamese
restaurant with the string-bead curtain
and napkins folded into swans.
I had to learn the basics:
I only knew your every thought,
but not, for instance, how you took
your coffee, how you swam at five
each day, leaving me to wake alone.
Nothing grew on the hard-baked
basalt of us. Ditches that had
once defined our highways vanished,
once-shady trees now jutted like antlers
where the lightning had struck them.
When the strawberries were gone
we ate dandelion roots and fiddle-head ferns.
You were an inventive chef, but I
was sick of roots and leaves. Once,
longing for old comforts, you peeked
back under the edge of the rock-crust
for a glimpse of green, but the lawns
were mustard and thistle-pocked.
Twice I peeked too.
Watering didn’t help much.
Neither did planting seeds.
After a year or two, we got used to it.
Gave up trying.
Hung up our boots.
One day we saw the rock was dusted
with faintest green, just a bristle
like your five a.m. beard—no more.
And then we saw a stem unfurl,
and then the flowers came.
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