It was just us and the animals then,
no cobbled streets of Paris, no glass skyscrapers,
just primeval forest full of foxes, elk with pronged horns
prairies of antelope, silence endless as grass.

No Augustine, no Milton. Not a single storyteller.
The animals don’t tell stories. Not the squirrels
scrambling up tree trunks twitching their bushy tails,
nor the foxes that mildly observed them disappear.

The best of the liars convinced Adam himself—
who once knew me—
to believe. I remember the graze of fur,
the brown gaze of cattle, the swiveling ears of horses.

The animals were real. Two bears waded a stream.
Raccoons turned over rocks. The horses
crowded close, slobbered over my palms,
gobbled the same quartered apple I offered Adam.

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Katherine Smith’s poetry and fiction have appeared in a number of journals and reviews, among them Cincinnati Review, Journal of the Motherhood Initiative, Ploughshares, Measure, Shenandoah, Fiction International, Poetry, The Southern Review, Appalachian Heritage, Atlanta Review, Gargoyle, The Baltimore Review, Poems and Plays, and The Louisville Review. Her first book, Argument by Design, won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Prize and appeared in 2003. Her second book, Woman Alone on the Mountain, 2014, is available from Iris Press. She currently teaches at Montgomery College in Germantown, MD, where she is poetry editor of the Potomac Review.