Poem Hunter
Ye Shall Be As Gods
SM (May 3,1981 / Tucson, AZ)

Ye Shall Be As Gods

Poem By Sean McDowell

My mother stands, her back to me, watching
the wind stir her garden. Years ago,
I would have said that she saw traces of God,
her thought being that He left Eden to stroll in her creation.
I would have said that she stands now
in the shade
at the edge of the porch to be ready to withdraw
to deeper darkness should she hear Him call.
But I see now that she stands that way
against the wind to prevent it

from entering the house.
A hose winds across the lawn, ending in a sprinkler head
at the yard's center. Here she commands rain,
which then channels into hundreds of rivers,
each sustaining a corner of our world while remaining
nameless. My mother's eyes fall
upon the lifeless trunk
of our old nectarine tree––I used to find fruit
rained on the ground, half chewed open by insects,
each a rotting, withered pit,
exposed to the sun and left uneaten. Untempting.
We never ate them, though I see now we should have––

wisdom might have saved us.
On the other side of the garden, a row of oleanders
isolates a third of the yard.
It is here Kenny Wettering and I gained a Roman imperium, slinking
through the brush with baseball bats,
thrashing branches to spark the flight of June Bugs. Defiant,
they would hover against us
until, like Titans, we would swing and snap them through the air,
small obsidian shells
that rained like some strange omen in my neighbors' yards.
They return each year,

and will survive us.
We are being unmade in seven days,
feeling each nerve uncoil, though we could swear
it has taken decades. I don't know
on which of those days the wind changed the direction
of the cast iron weather vane,
but I know that against the world I now declare east as west,
that the second creation of the world started here,
in my own backyard,
with the wind-worn hands of my mother.
And tonight

we will be ready.
When the wind nears again, we will dab another dropp of our blood
on the doorposts, bolt the doors,
and watch through the windows
as the lights in the surrounding houses go out one after another.

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