Wise Poets – Faith Shearin – Adam Naming the Animals

Faith Shearin

After he could no longer speak with them,
after the warm garden had a draft,
and Adam found himself naked and mortal,
after his wife was made from his own
cage of love, and after she introduced
him to the snake that offered its famous
advice, after all these things, God asked
Adam to name the animals. Eve would
bring forth children in great pain
but Adam must name the beasts,
one by one, remembering how he had
known them, how they once had voices
as clear as the difference between
good and evil. He felt the loss of their
friendship: he used to rely on the birds
to watch the future and the dogs to sniff
the past. Now he had names for them
but they had no name for him,
their thoughts as hidden as the wishes
of trees. God spoke loudly
and set things on fire but the animals
were now as silent as snow, traveling
on their many legs, wrapped in fur
or feathers. Adam was lonely and less able
to see the world, though the fruit he’d eaten
promised clarity. Naming the animals
was hard because it was like naming
all the parts of himself he no longer
knew, all the parts he could not understand.