First Food

In the beginning we ate the words raw.
Like sunlight they lit us up, summering
our skins, deepening belief in the body.
Sometimes, the words told bogus stories,
like the one where I was born—poof!—
from a rib bone. We nodded, lounging
in tall grasses, watching for eyes in that
dividing blue, waiting for the sweet click
of night so we could finally be ourselves,
speak in our native tongue, that limitless
language of groins. Two teenagers waiting
for grownups to leave the house, hungry
for one hot minute. We always knew
we were naked. Light, dark, repeat.
Words shivering in the trees, words
blinding, watching us, words, words,
words, naming every single thing.
Let there be a little action, we prayed.
That day, I walked to the tree called
“No” and plucked a soft-bellied bulb
of fruit, as nude as the moon, humming
with sun. Like the first fuck it all came
and went so fast, the juice luscious
on our lips, roaring down our chins
like rivers to the ocean, ripe flesh
falling all tongue and no words
as we whirled toward the edge,
gushing along, a little action,
(thank god!) the sky black as a fig
as we dangled over the blue abyss,
the words thundering a tantrum
of myth. For once, then, silence.
We walked off into the dark.

A Poetry Contest Winner

Gregory Emilio

Gregory Emilio's poetry and essay have appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Permafrost, Pleiades, Spoon River Poetry Review, The Poet's Billow, and World Literature Today. Recently, he was selected for the 2018 Best New Poets anthology. He's the Nonfiction Editor at New South, and a PhD candidate in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He also moonlights as a bartender.

Thomas Cole

"Expulsion From the Garden of Eden," 1828. Via Wikimedia Commons.