As though I could forget the rabble-rouse years
outside of Eden, before you sat in the shadows
and worried your forelock over the dark stain
at the bridge of your nose, borne of a history
of which no one would speak.
I was she who collected the scraps,
in those days. You were the favored son
to whom none offered favor, the memory
of our softer brother not yet buried in blood
you never quite washed from your hands.
Did you imagine I would not know? I have
wondered, in the years that have passed
since you walked with me along the river
and bade me to wander with you. Did you
imagine I would not guess?
As though I could forget the shrill silence that
rolled out across the fields, that dangerous day.
As though I could forget the stillness broken only
by your ragged breathing, the heady scream
of the tsippor’s funeral dirge.
I ran with you then, brother, lover, father
of my sons and keeper of my city. I ran
with you, and I am running still, the swell
of your progeny haunting the hollows
of my stomach, the balls of my feet.
In the rabble-rouse years before all was
lost, when you kept your till and I kept my
silences, I dreamt of the future we would bring.
But cowards do not build nations, love,
and no one knows it better than I.
I, who carried your curse when you could not,
I, who bore the worst of you when the best
bled out with Abel into the salted earth, I
who watched our city fall to ruins around your head,
will no longer lie for you as I laid with you.
Murderer. It was I who was
your brother’s keeper,
as I was your son’s
as I was yours.