Page 39 - WTP VOl. IX #1
P. 39

 is coming out, no cry, and certainly no words. Eve, however, is wailing. We know this. We cannot see her face, but her posture, bent over the body of her child, her voluminous hair cascading over Abel’s shoulders, is the posture of weeping and we know that kind of weeping, that awful sound.
Perhaps Adam will join Eve later in the bodily ex- pression of grief, the sobbing, the moaning and keening. For both of them, language, whatever language we imagine them speaking, is absent, un- available. Might language return, changed by this? Might it return after Abel’s body, laid out next to this grave that Cain has dug, is rolled into the earth and covered?
And so, Cain becomes the archetype of the person who discovers, with horror, the evil he has done in passion, and its meaning, and therefore his impos- sible responsibility: to know himself capable of in- flicting death. That not only is the world this bloody place, and not a peaceable kingdom where trees bear fruit and crops in orderly rows are nurtured by sun and rain, but that he himself is the agent of that revelation.
Consider Adam’s complete uselessness; consider that for him as a father understanding this uselessness
is nothing less than psychic annihilation. He is as empty as a zero. His face and posture suggest au- thority completely at a loss, shocked, outraged, and completely bewildered by the indelible fact that
his son is dead—at the hands of his son. Patriarchy, the painting might suggest, is a lie, a pathetic insis- tence upon an authority that here, in this scene, has been revealed as hollow: Adam, no man’s son, is the defeated father; from now on, sons will hand down
to their sons contention, aggression, violence, in a future that is martial, bloody, and murderous. The look on the face of Blake’s Adam suggests he sees and understands this all at once.
Abel’s body is everyone else, all our bodies, the spec-
tre of our fear at being vulnerable to deadly violence.
The scene depicts a moment when even the dream of a return to paradise has become impossible. If there is an angel standing guard at the gate, he has extin- guished his now superfluous flaming sword: Eden is gone for good. This is the moment when Adam and Eve, in their wordlessness and wailing, in their grief, become the parents of the human race.
“You are the maker of the dream ... Whatever you put into the dream must be what is in you.” — Fritz Perls
I am a shovel of iron and wood. I do not recall being made although it’s likely I am Cain’s creation, he who makes his own ingenious tools, who gathers seeds and plants in rows, who in the past has used me to prepare a harvest. Together we made an or- chard of a wilderness. A garden from the stories of his parents. I am burnished by his hands. I smell of him, his labor. I believe he loves me. I will do any- thing he asks.
I felt the desperate yearning in his hands, in the rhythm of his work as together we opened the ground. And so I must believe he only wished to see his brother again. Other dead things have all come back, placed in the earth and covered, why not Abel? Though I sensed he knew before he threw me aside that he was lying to himself with every chunk of sod we broke, with every shovelful of dirt.
I was not his weapon, only his accomplice. He will flee and leave me here, abandoned. I think this is the edge of a cliff. I sense it. With my metal I can smell the coming rain. It will douse the flames, but Cain will be gone from here.
Who then will bury Abel who is not a seed and will not come again? I await them.
We mountains are all that does not aspire, does not contend. Grey, barren, craggy, forbidding, we seem to go on forever and we are pleased to have you think so. Hidden in our rock are jewels and geodes, veins of silver and gold; in our caves there are dangerous hungers. Look in every direction, look as far as your eyes can see: nothing grows here. A little moss on a hollow filled with dirt, a solitary bowl of earth Cain
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