I was a simple man
Couldn’t bear the cries
of the lambs at the slaughter
So much largesse, the earth
Generous in her gifts
bounteous fruits, ripe and round
as a mother’s bosom.
My brother–he was the brute in his
dominion over the animals.
Slitter of throats, sanguineous spiller.
He was the first professional killer.
Funny how no one remembers that.
All my years of labor, bent in the sun
sowing, weeding, harvesting
While my brother lazed in the grass,
then slew the babes of the beasts in his care.
When I made sacrifice, I offered to G-d
the sweetest, the ripest, the juiciest
The best of what grew from the sweat of my brow
My brother, his crooked smile,
His pile of rotting meat on the altar–
Pleased G-d more. Of course.
The scent of roasting fat
To whom can one appeal
when G-d is unfair?
I was not even allowed to be downcast.
G-d himself chastised me.
Sin is crouching at the door.
Yes, I opened the door and sin sidled in.
It’s a sin to hate your brother
But hate him I did, smug face, second born
Favorite son, beautiful boy.
Everything given to him because
I was the first fruit of my mother’s sin.
So perhaps sin was ever my lot?
The rock in my hand felt correct
Felt true, the crushing of his skull
a mellifluous crack, a satisfying shatter
In that moment, I understood my brother
For the first time, the joy of the kill
The power, the potency
The way the earth drank of his dark liquor
Avid for it–the greedy earth, so familiar to me
I’d fed her before, I feed her again
The blood of my brother, his brains, all that he was
All that he would ever be.
The greatest gift it was indeed.
I left him there to nourish the earth.
Then, a voice in thunder:
“Where is thy brother?”
The All Knowing, the Sky Father, asked of me.
I said, in my rage,
“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Turns out that G-d is as fond of sarcasm
As I am of loaded questions.
He denied me the fruit of the earth.
The earth cares not, I thought. The earth is indifferent
And now she’s indifferent to me.
It’s fitting. There’s nothing I could give her
That would taste as fine as Abel’s meat.
Then G-d passed His sentence upon me
Touched His finger to my forehead
oh how it burned, the torment of His judgment
A sign, a diadem, a Mark
That I should walk and all should quake to see me
First born, first murderer.
But none should ever touch me, lest he
suffer the wrath of G-d.
A punishment? This? An eternity to walk
This land that despises me
To bear sons, to build cities
To rest never, to cease never.
The truth? The final secret?
In the end–
G-d approved my sacrifice.
The blood of Abel was delicious
And G-d supped on it and found it good.
A better sacrifice than lambs–
So now I Am Who Am
Has an unquenchable appetite
For the gore and essence of mankind.
Because of me.
So I walk, unburdened by family
To bear witness to a G-d
Who loves blood, who quaffs it
As ravenously and indifferently as the earth.
The distant stars my roof, the furious earth my bed.
None must harm me. All must quake to see me.
That is my punishment.
That is my reward.