Kirsten Kaschock

In One Beginning

  1. a mirror was the onliest carnage. Its oval
  2. begged at its edges (a waterhole will
  3. obscure predation). Its oval begged
  4. and begged and the birds came
  5. first and then the wildebeests. Finally, man
  6. augured at mirror as mud. What it was
  7. was most truculent silver-white, but
  8. these did not know New England snow
  9. nor would they. When the birds flew
  10. over it congregations, fish schooled it
  11. beneath. When beasts leaned in
  12. to drink, huge jaws split the surface to feast
  13. en face. When men walked across, as still
  14. they could then at the beginning
  15. of the world, their soles echoed in women’s
  16. soles—women upside-down, women lengthening
  17. their hair with gravity, braiding it with movement
  18. of fish, seaweed, rivergrass. Then. One man
  19. reached down and cupped mirror, brought
  20. it mouthward in a kind of alcohol. This was
  21. the first kiss, the woman plucked and
  22. inverted. She sucked air, for her first time
  23. but found hard releasing what was
  24. insubstantial. The hole left beneath her by her
  25. swallowed men. Several, falling under, shot up
  26. women, until some of each were in each
  27. atmosphere and some halfway. Here, among
  28. the air, women move with grace, and used to
  29. thicker stuff, can hold their breath for lifetimes.
  30. But this, this has all been told from the top
  31. down. Underneath—the story goes—crocs were
  32. always waiting, fish doing their arithmetics, and it was
  33. women invented the mirror, inexplicably but on
  34. purpose, calling forth those who believe
  35. it is their thirst that brings into being water.