The Tree of Knowledge
The hastily assembled angel saw One thing was like another thing and that Thing like another everything depend- ed on how high it was the place you saw Things from and he had seen the Earth from where A human couldn’t see the Earth and could- n’t tell most human things apart and though He hadn’t ever really understood His job he knew it had to do with seeing And what he saw was everything would come Together at the same time everything Would fall apart and that was humans thinking The world was meant for them and other things Were accidental or were decora- tions meant for them and therefore purposeful That humans thought that God had told them so And what the hastily assembled angel Thought was that probably God had said the same thing To every living thing on Earth and on- ly stopped when one said Really back but then Again the hastily assembled angel Couldn’t tell human things apart and maybe That Really mattered what would he have heard Holy or maybe Folly or maybe Kill me
Copyright © 2018 by Shane McCrae. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 21, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
“‘The Tree of Knowledge’ is part of a tiny sequence of poems featuring a being I call ‘the hastily assembled angel.’ A lot of the poems I’ve been writing lately seem to me to be very belated responses to the Martian poetry that briefly appeared in the United Kingdom about forty years ago, and so feature protagonists to whom Earth seems even more strange than it seems to people who live on Earth in a more everyday way. If our country is going to be led by a comic-book villain, our poems might as well be filled with Martians.”