I wanted to post this poem as I was searching for information on the author and came across several people looking for the text of this poem. It's a favourite of mine, discovered in the 90's when taking a workshop in Florida.
Eve, Learning to SpeakA world already named, already
in the urge of his stressed
mood and doom and sundown, logbridge
the gouge of the creek, hunched
For days I called him I,
called the root in his fist
water, called what fire does
He’d close mefor hours in the rivercliff
cave, as punishment,
to make me remember,
then he’d teach me its name: alone.
Alone,I practiced the unnatural sounds,
touching my lips as he did,
move through my throat, my chest,
letting it stay there.
Then sometimes the hush, thethrill
of seeing things I hadn’t learned to say,
things he hadn’t claimed yet with his tongue:
once I woke, wet, hands muddy,
to something quick and burning
cutting through the trees.
And pieces of river
clinging to the spiderswings
between the crimped, rough applelimbs:
I would have kept that
as it was, tangible, alien,
let the memory
and I stared at him,
when he came to rescue me
and teach me rain and lightning.
But some thingsI kept as my own: the hurt
low in my body
he knew nothing of.
I came to like it. And my own
name for the land—not “Eden,”
not, even, a sound,
nothing any body could reproduce…
He wanted everything
common, reduced, so we could
exchange it, as though it were breath,
as though I still lay
deep in the bone and muscle of his side.
Sometimes I’d see myself
as I thought he must:
cut off, inviolable—
and I’d sit with him
and watch the high, cold grasses
all blowing one way.
I’d give in and let my strange
And I’d feel the world diminishing, name by name,
as we talked through the long hours, and my new
hardened into form.
Bruce Beasley, from The Creation