Paradeisos by Holli Carrell

Once, our voices were erased
inside the garden
by green and orange crystals
of sap that burst on bark
like boils;
by the paddle
of the otter applauding
the cerulean sheen of the lake.
Desire had no place.
Our footsteps mixed
with the trailing track
of the lizard’s tail, the chaste
shits of the deer: odorless
and perfectly formed
as pearls. I don’t think
we even had voices.
The fish, too, were dumb
and innocent.
They’d never tasted
adrenaline or bait
and swam in the shallows
like fat bars
of lolling gold.
We wouldn’t have thought
to snatch them.
Knowledge had never been born.
We hadn’t discovered
bliss is to forget.
Even if birds
hooted and mocked us
from the treetops, we had everything
we needed. Illness
wasn’t called illness,
wasn’t called the end.
In our ears, the wind
said all is understood
with patience.
My hands ache
to be buried, taken
back inside
the soil’s blanket,
my blood pulse
sanitized and synchronized
by the great rhythm.
We only needed ourselves.
Not even each other, really.
After supper our mouths dragged
to the blackberries
that hung
fat and plush on the bush.
I know now
how our mouths came after them
was the first mistake.
Holli Carrell is a writer originally from Utah, now based in Queens. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Salt Hill, Bennington Review, Quarterly West, Blackbird, Raleigh Review, The Florida Review, and other places. She is a graduate of the MFA program in poetry at Hunter College, where she was a recipient of the Colie Hoffman Poetry Prize and a Norma Lubetsky Friedman Scholarship. You can find her online at