And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain . . . and his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

—Genesis 4:1–2


The dirt under her nails, in her finger creases,
smells like iron, tastes like salt.

Eve smooths the barren soil
like a restless baby’s back,
tracing circles of Hush-a-bye, be still
to earth’s trembling veins
as Abel’s blood soaks the ground,
spreading and staining

topsoil, sediment, clay,
the water and dirt in my own mother’s palms.
Spinning, it spackles her face,
shrouds her skin.

She, too, became a potter
when her youngest child died.
Dusting the house in porcelain
as fine as Matthew’s ashes
and burying the yard in sculptures:

a pregnant torso in the dogwood,
and in the bougainvillea,
three tiny hands
reaching out of the ground,
index fingers crumbling.