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Rereading East of Eden After a Tour of the Reconciliation Village

Gabrielle Spear

...the Hebrew word, the word timshel—

‘Thou mayest’—that gives a choice...Why,

that makes a man great...for in his...murder

of his brother he...can choose his course...

—Chapter 24

But what of the glittering instrument

without a choice to begin with?

What of the ladder to the stars

if the ladder is pulled from beneath your feet?

In my country, another Black mother mourns

her child slain by the state and the Black president mandates

reconciliation. Here, the Tutsi king fashions himself

a crown from the plucked bones of his conquest.

Dictates the living dead harvest a feast

of forgiveness in his honor.

Find me a land that is not a peace memorial

in the making.

Who am I to prescribe mercy

when I can barely touch myself?

Gabrielle Spear is a queer, chronically ill poet and educator based in Baltimore and raised in northwest Arkansas. She has been named a Brooklyn Poets Fellow and an inaugural member of Catapult's 12-Month Poetry Generator. Her work is most recently featured in Revolute, Protean Magazine, Catapult, Cotton Xenomorph, and the anthology A Land With a People: Palestinians and Jews Confront Zionism.

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