Second Adam

by Ben Belitt

Ben Belitt

Whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
When the Deluge had passed,
into my head, by twos, came the creeping things,
the horn of their jawbones shining, and the things of the air,
wing-cases breaking like clasp knives, asking their names.

Storm-light colored their passing
with an animal imminence. They wheeled
on the pile of their plumage, in the dread of their animal being,
and rode in the ark of my head

where the possible worked like a sea.
Nothing was given me there. Nothing was known. Feather and scale,
concussions of muscle and fur, the whale and the name for the whale
rose on the void like a waterspout, being, and ceasing to be:

till keel clashed and I spoke: mayfly,
wood-weasel, stingray, cormorant, mole—
choosing the syllables, holding a leaf to the torrent,
unharmed and infallible, while Creation descended, in twos.

Last updated September 22, 2022