Knowledge of Good and Evil
by Penelope Scambly Schott
I am a way better biter than Eve
or Adam. I go at apples entirely,
core and seeds, leaving nothing
but stem. I have built my house
out of stems, and between them,
a window. All these ageing years
l have stared out. Eve swallowed
while Adam watched and then bit.
You know the bitter punishment:
I groaned twice during childbirth,
uttered Excuse me. I am a cloud
above my two cottonwood trees,
in greenest love with their heart-
shaped leaves. My sweet babies
grow up and leave, though they
lurk under old bark. A skinny kid
yells Dude across the vacant lot.
He can’t imagine when his feet
in sneakers grew so enormous,
able to smash a fallen apple flat.
Far away in the city, a streetcar
clangs on its tracks like money,
throwing sparks. Before I travel
further into the dark, I’ll swallow
the worm in the apple and let it
replace my human voice. Bless
all the worms who comprehend
how stories can end in violence.
Or is struggle life’s given name?
I admired this planet most when
marmosets were the grown-ups
and no human—sapiens or less
sapiens—yet prowled this earth,
before any man hoisted a spear.
The poets of Oregon have so much to say to the world. They see a frayed time and write to patch the tears. They see intolerance and write to flip hatred the bird. Or they see the immense scope of the universe and write to zoom out and humble us with a reminder of its grandeur. Still others see the preciousness in the simplest moments and write to freeze those memories in polished amber. The best of this incredible bunch not only respond to the world in which we live, but create their own in the span of 80 lines or less. No small feat. But that’s the miracle of language and that’s why I hope every single one of these poets keep blessing us with their words.
Penelope Scambly Schott‘s most recent book is House of the Cardamom Seed. She lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon, where she leads an annual poetry workshop.