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“Blood in the Garden” by Whitney Hemsath

Blood spills on the garden floor. It isn’t mine but should be.

My fig leaves, like ignorance, itch to be shed. They will not be enough beyond the garden—I know that now. I know we need these coats of skin.

But the beasts—their blood! It drips like juice from fresh-bit fruit and stains the soil red.

I cling to the discomfort of my apron because I did not know. How could I have known? I thought only those who ate would pay.

With sharpened stone and solemn face our brother calls more beasts. We wait—for choice ever blooms in this garden— and I weep as more gentle friends come.

Answering his call, they choose among the flowers where they will lie, where they will die, where they will bleed to cover my cost.

One day when I bring through my blood our own fruit and these precious skins cover my own, I may forget the perfumes of Eden, the heat of the sword all aflame, but never the trampled flowers under willing hooves or the far-future promise of blood in a garden

that won’t be mine but should be.

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