Eve in the Wilderness
I could have been good. Could have kept my hair long, kept my head down, apologized more. Thrown myself in the Soo Locks, left my baby alone with a man who mowed rabbits’ nests into shreds in the long grass. Stayed where the lake lapped the beach like a woman’s tongue, stayed married the first time, could have let myself die and be the girl everyone wanted me to be. I rubbed oil on the baby’s head, let him run through the dunes till marram grass scraped his knees, collected his milk teeth. The sky was heavy and men shot at deer, at whatever moved in the woods. We could hear the wet thump of a body hitting the dirt. My boy clung to me, a cocklebur. A terror. Good girls know they are husk, garlic scape in wet woods, rabbit limp in the dog’s hot mouth. Once I believed in God. But I am not good. I know how to bird-bone my body and holydove myself over the walls, whet my tongue, spit, fight. I didn’t always know. My god of loam and salt, god of soft tits, heavy-bellied and tender, sits by the ocean where I have taken my child to teach him a different way to be. I could have let God kill me. Maybe He did. But I opened my mouth and the Holy Spirit flew out.
Sara Quinn Rivara is the author of Animal Bride (Tinderbox Editions) and Lake Effect (Aldrich Press). Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Whale Road Review, Heavy Feather Review, Mom Egg Review, Indianapolis Review, Cherry Tree Review, West Branch, and numerous other places.
Art: Molly Dunham