Cain Apologizing to His Dead Brother

Brother, I do not know why I did it.
Someone grabbed me by the collar and
I choked, yes, I choked and thought I’d die.
I did not wish to die. The panorama
of life was what I wanted. To hold and be held,
to live in the world and learn. To conquer?
I hadn’t said that to myself but yes,
I think now I must have wanted to conquer.
There was so much of it! So much earth,
so much vegetation, so many boulders,
cliffs, a wealth of flowers, kinds of weather,
seas as blue as sky, rivers twisting
themselves into double entendres, the sun
a large daisy blooming overhead.
I raced out into it and, not knowing
I would do it, not knowing I wanted it all,
I killed you, brother, before I knew what I
was doing. If I could bring you back I would.
I miss your intelligence, your heart
filled with concern, even concern for me.
Had some unidentifiable darkness
entered me? But why had it chosen me?
Or was the desire to kill already consuming
my soul? Is there anything left of my soul?
I have no answers to my questions. None.
Not even God has answers to my questions.
Nor did he want to answer them. He loved
Abel before me. Did he already know
that I would murder my brother? Then why did he
not warn me? I would have run to the edge of earth
and thrown myself into the Underworld
to avoid killing my brother. Abel, Abel.
The world is wide, complex, and confusing,
and my descendants rule it.

Kelly Cherry

Kelly Cherry

Author of 25 books as of February 1, 10 chapbooks, 2 translations of classical drama. Former Poet Laureate of Virginia. Emeritus Member, Poets Corner, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, NYC. NEA, USIA, Rockefeller, inaugural recipient of the Hanes Poetry Prize from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, Bradley Lifetime Award, Phillabaum Award, Weinstein Award, others. Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin Madison. Eminent Scholar, UAH, 2001-2005. Her newest book is Quartet for J. Robert Oppenheimer (poems).
Kelly Cherry

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Author: Kelly Cherry

Author of 25 books as of February 1, 10 chapbooks, 2 translations of classical drama. Former Poet Laureate of Virginia. Emeritus Member, Poets Corner, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, NYC. NEA, USIA, Rockefeller, inaugural recipient of the Hanes Poetry Prize from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, Bradley Lifetime Award, Phillabaum Award, Weinstein Award, others. Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin Madison. Eminent Scholar, UAH, 2001-2005. Her newest book is Quartet for J. Robert Oppenheimer (poems).