Song of the Exiles

There never was a garden,
only a leaving:
miles and miles
of footprints in the dirt.

In the beginning—
the shattered sun, the wind,
and nothing left but our shadows
sifting through the dust behind us.

When we turned
we did not turn to salt.
When we turned
there was nothing behind us to burn

nothing to return to
though who could blame us for turning,
with only the long days ahead
tongues tripping in the dirt.

They said we didn’t belong.
They blamed us
for leaving the garden
which never was or would be.

Where could we go,
we who had come from nowhere
and hence could not

Copyright © 2022 by Holly Karapetkova. This poem originally appeared in Prairie Schooner. Used with permission of the author.