I watch them pluck flowers for the altar. The service
begins as a girl sets the table outside under
a tree with branches intertwined. She has long pale braids
and Scandinavian blue eyes, she could be Gretel.
A branch encircles like a snake. When we approach her
she is discomfited, though she says she’s all right.
Her eyeballs are shifting like crazy—something I would
not normally notice. Yet something is shaking loose,
she knows that I am reading her like an open book.
“This is Eve before the fall,” I say, without desire,
as if she’s naked. I look at her, he looks at me,
and then we switch—he looks at her and she looks at me.
The tree bark is just as smooth as the skin of a frog.
Leonard Kress has published poetry and fiction in Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, Crab Orchard Review, American Poetry Review, Atticus Review, Harvard Review, etc. His recent collections are The Orpheus Complex, Living in the Candy Store, and Braids & Other Sestinas. He teaches philosophy, religion, and creative writing at Owens College in Ohio and serves as fiction editor for Artful Dodge.
Photo: Sarah Ann Loreth