In the Garden of the Hurricane's Eye

In the garden of the hurricane’s eye, a bird
wound tight to sun shook on a bough, shook out
blood-music from the heart-pump of the light;
and all the day’s wood woke, trembling with song.
From vines like conflagrations of the air,
from weightless tops of green, from bearing boughs
nodding their fruits, and over meadows glazed
like birthday cakes candled with flickering flowers,
the morning wind of bird song swelled its way
into the waking thought of man and woman
wound in their mosses at the edge of time.
He lay carved dark and naked, one root-arm
Outflung across the moss, half-deep in moss.
She, on her side, lay folded in the sleep
between his arm and body, her breasts borne
against the brown withes of his ribs, her hair
spilled on his shoulder, one arm and one knee
locking her birth to his. Like vine on tree
she knit upon him. Like the sun-wound birds
her heart began. And like the morning song
that fluttered the flower-candles in the sun,
and stirred the leaping blazes of the vines,
she stirred in him and woke. A rainbow bent
to her first-opened eyes. Like light and shade
a smile played on her lips. She raised herself
slowly on one moss-printed elbow, leaning
between him and the light, and knew at once,
as she stared down at him, how he would wake.
She tested tremblingly with her slow eyes
the knottings of his body. He looked foolish
lying so far from knowledge, his mouth open.
His useless nipples like two hairy shells
slid sidewise on his sleep. She almost laughed —
to be so knit with powers and vestiges
and still to sleep, while every sun-wound bird
shook the day’s wood with song, and his own blood
ran like new singing rivers from his heart-hump
to the bronze blood-webbed gourd burled in his thighs.
This time she laughed aloud. It was that laugh
more than all bird song brought his eyes to rest
from their lost wander in themselves. His lids
blew back like mist. At the sky top he saw
the storm’s clear eye look down, then look away.
He heard a wind move and the sea change sound.
She laughed again, but only in herself,
and touched him with a finger on one nipple.
His flung arm grew around her. Silently
she swelled upon it as upon the wood
of which she was the leaf, the fruit, and pod.
The laughter in her bloomed into a fire:
she was the vine blazed up the bird-swept trees,
he was the trunk and forest of all sleep
and waking, and one weather raged them both.
She clung against its rip, then fell away
backward from trunk to moss. The tree fell with her.
Out of its ripped roots rose the blood-webbed snake.
The birds had shut themselves. From broken boughs
the vines lashed like loose lines, their pennants torn.
The meadow-candles, doused, blew down and lay
like strings in mud. The man and woman lay
lashed to themselves, nearer than Paradise,
a weather in them Heaven wept to bear.
All she had wakened knowing, he would learn.
All he had wakened answering, she would be.
The weather killed and rested. Beetles baked
like gravel in the mud. The sucking sun
glued them to clay again. The eighth day burned.
All round them now inquiring angels passed,
and found no one tree, but the fruit of all
baked into clay with beetles, heads of birds,
and the torn vines of that dismasted sleep.
The woman looked up from between two rocks
and thought “Is this the end? Is there an end?”
The man said nothing but refused their alms,
salvaged what could be of spoiled fruit, dug roots
and brought them to her. “Is it time to go?”
she asked beside him, watching the light angels
strolling and taking note. He did not answer.
All night he lay beside her, silent. Silent
he woke and dug a cave back from their rocks.
Silent, he combed the wood among the angels.
And silent at the shore where they had moored
he scraped for mussels, slipped, gashed his arm open,
and left his first blood on the water. (Later,
an angel noted that the ship’s reflection,
lying across the cove’s glaze, must have touched
the bloodstain in its instant on the water,
for when they put to sea one jib was red.
And all the weathers of Heaven could not bleach it.)
That night he lay again without a word
half in the unfinished cave, his scarred arm left
like a new bone in moonlight, while his head
lay in the shadow he had dug. She, waking,
sat by him weeping softly for his blood,
then bent and kissed the scar — tenderly first;
then with a sobbing passion pressed her lips
into his flesh, so hard the scar broke blood.
He woke in pain, and it was then he spoke.
“Eve,” he said from his dark, and his red arm
locked round her till she moaned for her crushed breath.
The one-eyed moon lay on them openly
when they fell spent, apart. She knew his name
and said it to herself where she lay from him,
face up into the moon. “Adam,” she said,
as if a night bird knocked inside her heart;
and waited for that knock, knew it would come
one night as they lay locked. “Adam,” she said,
and like a moonglow edged back to his side.
“How dark he is,” she thought, “even the moon
leaves him half shadowy.” But when she lay
beside him, she, too, darkened and went out.
Then a branch moved, and both of them lay lit.
Before dawn he was waiting at the shore.
The sun rose through the rigging of the ship.
He heard their voices drifting on the water
and did not know what language they were speaking
but heard shouts of command, hurrying sounds
such as he had not heard them make before,
and knew that they were leaving. As he knew
that one, the tallest and the whitest Captain
of all that crew of Captains, would come to him
there on the shore before the ship hove round
into the weather and was gone. The ship
broke out a white jib, then a red. He smiled —
a sword-smile drawn on at the edge of battle —
his blood would sail there far as the sea wound
into God’s eye. The weather God denied
would hoist one flag in Heaven, if no other.
He saw Him then: an eye in his mind’s eye,
a calm raged round by storms. And at the center?
Was that it? to be locked in calm, but powerless
to calm what raged? To pity God the lusts
that hurled Him round, yet kept their distance from Him?
He bowed his head to knowledge. The Angel came.
White as a noon cloud swelling on the sea,
yet shot through by a flame of ice, the Angel
stood off the earth and breezes circled him
like sunset doves, their wings both red and white,
and neither, and all three in the same instant.
“The orders were to drive you from the Garden.”
And he: “It was His eye moved and let in
the rage around it. Now, what garden is there
but what I make myself?” The Angel nodded,
and from his hawk-head one white feather fell.
The man watched it descend through all one age.
“You still may choose,” God’s bird said. “Come or stay.
This age is ended and the ship turns back.”
Crouched at the fern-edge of the wood, the woman
shivered at the man’s laugh. She watched him turn
full circle east to west and saw him roll
the world into his eye. She felt his look,
felt it approach; thought once their eyes had met,
but his passed on, and she crouched back afraid.
As if out of her fear, the whole wood started
its waterfall of bird song; leaf and fruit
came on at once; the meadows lit their candles.
“Has He a garden not ringed round by rages?”
he said. And the Angel, suddenly man-faced:
“You stay then?” But the man felt his first power.
“I won’t have words put into my mouth, not even
by a half-God in kindness. My words are not
‘I stay’ but ‘You go.’ ” Sadly, the Hawk smiled:
“Take this, then,” and he put a burning branch
into the man’s hand. Then the ship was gone.
The man turned, flag in hand, and saw her risen
out of the ferns. And waved. And the brand burned.