Adam’s Song


Tommy was the first pet I had in Eden,
par'a·keet'' seemed to fit—small parrot
with long tail, the color of apple, new leaf,
and lemon; harsh, irritating song.

I called it “screaming” at first, but my softer side
said, “Song, Adam, song.”

Eve taught me about mu'sic—a medley
of sounds and tones, as of the wind.

Cain taught me that some music is hard
to hear: “Father, I have killed Abel
and buried myself in a darker earth
where frozen stars draw black flowers
from my grave.” That was a song.

I clipped Tommy’s wings that day,
with scis'sors—a cutting instrument, two pivoted blades.
I gathered the yellow, green, and dark
red shadows in the valley of my palm.
Eve sang a music I could hardly hear.
I inserted one by one into the warm earth of Abel’s grave
the cool feath'ers—lighter than flowers, less afraid
of flying; colorfast and hardened by a harsh song.

About the author(s)

This poem won first place in the BYU Studies 1999 Poetry Contest.


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