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