Poem by Karen An-Hwei Lee

Ode to the Tiniest Dessert Spoon in All Creation

In a new translator’s version of Genesis, there’s no Adam.
No serpent. In paradise, I don’t bleed. Fig leaf-free girl,
dear God, I say as we converse fluently without tongues,
joined as two spice-drenched beloveds in a song of songs,
could we please ask the gardener to plant a pomegranate grove
by a stand of non-fruiting olive cultivars, which don’t bloom
and aren’t so messy?
 Honey, I am the gardener, says God,
whose anthropomorphic footfalls caress the afternoon cool.
Wolves in our botanical garden ask nothing of any human,
eyes the hue of clementines plucked green off a young tree,
one of five in my orchard, per telltale ringless left finger:
fig, clementine, kumquat, oroblanco, and lemon. If I reside
in paradise, then I get to eat all the fruit I want, all day long.
No problem, says God, who calls me a little pouch of myrrh.
An eagle locks eyes with mine. A dove by the pool adores
the wolves as she coos, gold-amber, one stone’s throw away.
Each one carries a scent: snowy owls of shuttered skies, elk,
bobcats, melanin-rich skin of a feckless human. In paradise,
wolves and doves coexist. Once, a clementine sat forgotten
in my purse until it acquired the spots of a leopard. A world
in a lion’s eye is kohl-lined gold. Aloes and sage carve a path
through a brushy stand of Joshua trees, one which God made
after lightning struck the agave and scrub oak. Joshua trees
are chuppah arches double-wreathed with burrs, scales, fur.
Joshuas aren’t guys, so yucca moths activate their ovaries.
Wolves do not question why a male is missing in paradise.
Yes, yucca moths take care of it. Coyotes do not question
the human. Why I’m not married, why childless, howling,
and whether we’ve reached the century when God invents
a gossamer mousse garnished with absinthe-laced cherries
served in hand-fired ceramic espresso cups, a dessert to taste
together for the first time after we invent a miniature spoon
no larger than a bee hummingbird, tiniest in all creation.

Poetry Magazine  (December 2018)

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