Back to Issue Twenty-Five.

because eden, from the hebrew, meant pleasure



and lived on in the moment of arousal
when a surge of noradrenaline
flooded the amygdala, the teacher
put a condom on a banana. Inside
each girl, he said, was a wall of shuddering
muscle and an egg that each month
dropped like a red gumball from the vending
machine outside the liquor store. Semen,
he said, was a protein matrix
that could keep alive millions of almost-
babies or a virus that could nest
in your blood. He showed us
pictures of men with sunken faces,
skin gouged with sores. Adam
and Eve, he said, not Adam and Steve.
The boys who laughed loudest
chucked rocks at the church bell beyond
which acres thrummed with the brain
chemistry of the cornfield.
There was lightning, the teacher said,
in our testicles, coyotes in our blood.
At the 4-H fair, Nick kissed me
outside the calving tent, his face at night
the face of all the boys. If I reached out,
I could touch it as gently as I’d once
pulled a fishhook from my
shivering calf. We could hear hooves
in the stables, look past each other
into the woods. Soon, we knew
the heifers would be slaughtered,
the tents torn down. For now: sawdust.
For now: stars punched effortless
through sky. In the dark, he drew
a bird on his palm with a ballpoint pen,
moved his hand to make it fly.


Bruce Snider is the author of two poetry collections, Paradise, Indiana, winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize, and The Year We Studied Women, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. He is also co-editor with the poet Shara Lessley of The Poem’s Country: Place and Poetic Practice. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, Threepenny Review, and Best American Poetry. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of San Francisco.

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