Eve Returns

I enter the county park, thrilled
by its orchards, green-gold fields
and lily beds.
Hauling easel and brushes,
I search for a place
in the open
but not alone.
Sprawled in a canvas chair, a woman
laughs into her phone, a signpost
to set up nearby
in view of skies, blank
and blameless as that first chapter,
In the beginning.
I survey the garden
I’d cast myself from
as a girl, bruised
and ashamed.
No need to rehash the story,
although shadows still snake
between trees of every kind,
some bearing fruit,
some, husks.
But here I stand, cedar straight,
my first try in years
to paint landscape solo,
to fill the canvas
with paths and vegetation.
It’s a popular spot.
Men pace singly and in pairs.
One sidles up,
but I reach for my palette knife,
meet his eyes squarely and
finger my mace.
Behind me, two women
pull dogs on leashes
and he veers off.
I return to my brushstrokes
of branches, thistles –
all the array
and it is good.
Don’t we all have seeds
of paradise within us?

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