“Wherever she was, there was Eden” Adam lamenting beside Eve’s grave.  – Mark Twain


There is a deep mysterious ocean of strangers.
Everyone we know once rose from its cool depths, just breaking the surface at first,
then growing almost imperceptibly into an island, and finally a settled, mapped territory.

When love fails they become enemy lands or sink once more below the surface,
no longer known, only remembered, then less remembered, a void in the dark ocean.
Some we cry for. Some become home then suddenly collapse, leaving us in ice water a mile deep.

The rarest become Eden and we ourselves, exiles forever.
The Cupid cherub with love’s arrows becomes the cherubim with a flaming sword at the gate who stands down only to God.
Far from paradise, we hold our hand in the fire of memory, because the pain of remembering Eden lost, is better than forgetting Eden.

You are my Eden, my innocence lost, my flowering trees and peaceful beasts, my sweet water, my unknown nakedness, my new world.

We release thousands of people each year into the oblivion of unremembering.
Most without effort, as naturally as snow melts.
A few flicker on and off a while, distant lightning.

I cannot forget you, and I mean to say that it is impossible.
Because you are not a memory, you are part of me.
You are my daily experience though far away and stubbornly mute. My heart outside my body.

I feel your emotions. I feel love, sorrow, fear.
They are mine too, OUR love, sorrow, and fear.
our yearning aches, and answers through the distance between us like the troubled harmony of wolf howls.

When I release you, you do not become enemy land or a sunken void.
You and I are volcanic, rising at a distance from the same boiling sea floor
from the same restless faultline in the fiery earth. When I release you, if anything, you grow.

In the dream:

Our black islands surge and merge, they grow by push and rise by struggle.
Two lost Edens become a mountain, paradise is reborn, and innocence renewed,
beside the sweet water, underneath the flowering trees.

 

Hugh Miller

 

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