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Before the Snake

Nathaniel Tarn
Sitting, facing the sun, eyes closed. I can hear the 
sun. I can hear the bird life all around for miles. 
It flies through us and around us, it takes up all 
space, as if we were not there, as if we had never 
interrupted this place. The birds move diorami-
cally through our heads, from ear to ear. What 
are they doing, singing in this luminous fall. It is 
marvelous to be so alone, the two of us, in this 
garden desert. Forgotten, but remembering 
ourselves as no one will ever remember us. The 
space between the trees, the bare ground-sand 
between them, you can see the land's skin which 
is so much home. We cannot buy or sell this 
marvelous day. I can hear the sun and, within 
the sun, the wind which comes out of the world's 
lungs from immeasurable depth; we catch only 
a distant echo. Beyond the birds there are per-
sons carrying their names like great weights. 
Just think: carrying X your whole life, or Y, or Z. 
Carrying all that A and B and C around with you, 
having to be A all the time, B, or C. Here you can
be the sun, the pine, the bird. You can be the
breathing. I can tell you, I think this may be
Eden. I think it is.

Copyright © 2002 by Nathaniel Tarn. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2002 by Nathaniel Tarn. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.

Nathaniel Tarn