After Abel

by Forester McClatchey


I settled into the trees to wait for God.
Bullfrogs called, GROW. GROW.
Night’s dry mists involved the air.

Oaks rimming the pond
made a bowl for my shame.
When I tried to call out to God,
my throat opened to a bitter feast of stars.
Cold needles of light lived in my tongue.

Wrinkling the shallows, minnows
worked over my reflected face
like the lips of Adonai.

I said, “If you can kiss me,
you can tell me where to go,”
but God shook silently.

Then a terrible fish, a phalanx of fins,
came to frolic through the minnows.
I wish the killing had made me feel desolate,
but instead I exulted, smeared mud on my shoulders
and slapped the water for joy.

I slept on the shore,
and when I woke, I set out
in search of the land called Wandering.

FORESTER MCCLATCHEY is a poet from Atlanta, GA. His poems appear in Pleiades, Thrush, and Bayou Magazine, among other journals.

Photo: “‘Cain and Abel’ by Adriaen de Vries” by Volgar