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The Land of Nod

Growing up, I barely knew the Bible, but read

and reread the part when Cain drifted east

or was drawn that way, into a place of desolation,

the land of Nod, there to begin, with a wife

of unknown origin, another race of men,

under the mark of God. As a boy, I thought Nod

would be a place where the blue scilla

would bloom gray, a country of the rack and screw,

the serrated sword, where the very serving cups

were bone. As a grown man, I’ve heard that Nod

never was a nation—of Cain’s offspring, or anyone—

but a mistranslation of “wander,” so Cain

could go wherever, and be in Nod. Far more

than in God, I believe in Cain, who destroyed

his own brother, and therefore in any city

could have his wish, and be alone.

from Charms Against LightningFind it in the library

Copyright © 2012 James Arthur
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in James Arthur Poems

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