This poem appears in the Fall 2021 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe to the journal, click here.

If less of mud than minerals and marl,
Still it’s true mankind was formed by God
Of uncursed soil and neatly contoured rib.
The disparate elements a gracious sign
Of Deity not yet obscured by dusk.
And there was evening, as the Good Book says.

But then there was the stark and brooding dawn.
We are there yet, in that unsubtle place,
Toe-teetered on the line between the light
And viscous dark, although some still believe
We’re in the third day with its muddied earth
And spotted fruit with its ambiguous seeds.

Averse to leave the saturated dirt
Or set aside the slush of lust and pride,
We daub our cheeks and nails with particles
Of pliant clay to augment and impress,
Our speckled features thicker and more coarse
Than when first shaped and fired by nimble God.

Then, sweating in the piercing sun we weigh
Our large and unassuaged desires and thirsts.
At last to quench them, climb the outlawed tree
To take and eat the surely pleasing fruit.
Much later, breathless from this exercise,
We’ll scrape our skin with broken shards, ashamed.