It was that one moment –
my hand on the jar in the morning kitchen,
the thumb edged with garden earth
rubbing its mound against the lid –
You all blame me.
You think I had a choice
to bring out the jar, or leave it locked
in the cupboard by the door till time had wound us
back to the start. You say I was careless,
or foolish, or wicked, or simply curious,
that sin you call woman’s, as if men weren’t the ones
always probing and prying and lifting up stones.
But you don’t understand.
He’d gone out again, he who was sent
to be my companion, my lover, my joy.
Off to tend the flocks, or some such thing.
I’m afraid I didn’t listen when he told me about it,
it all seemed too – oh predictable, so much
what he’d been ordered to do, as I had my chores
and no chance to question.
For they weren’t all sealed away, hidden in that jar.
I didn’t let them all out when I lifted the lid.
That joker – the one with the loud voice
lifting off that way, and so damned high up –
he gave us one to start with, gratis, free,
no effort on my part required to set it loose.
A simple sin, easy to ignore
for the longest time with all I had to do:
setting up the house, planting the garden,
discovering what those things were for,
his and mine, that fit so well
when we found out how.
Still, I felt it at times, behind my right ear
or underneath my breastbone,
at night when he was in the throes,
or after breakfast when the door had shut
and the dishes waited
and silence fell like a sheet.
That’s when it ate at me:
first like a fly buzzing around, almost below notice;
then, a blackness that perched on my shoulder,
was always there; finally huge wings
that draped themselves over me
and took to smothering sight at the oddest times –
while I brushed my hair,
or listened to the rain –
boredom. That’s all.
Such a small and simple sin
to topple a world.
And my right hand.
Four fingers. One thumb.
One hand that came to twitch and burn,
to clench in the night, jerk against a glass,
send it crashing to floor
And one day, when the sun shone in,
pulled me to the cupboard,
turned the cool key,
lifted out the jar –
What else could I have done?
I testi inglesi di Pandora, Birthday Tales, The Moth sono desunti dalla raccolta Paper Affaires e pubblicati per gentile concessione dell’autrice (copyright Susan McMaster)