“Verge” by Kendall Billig


The expulsion from Paradise is in its main significance eternal.
Consequently the expulsion from Paradise is final, and life in this
world irrevocable, but the eternal nature of the process makes it
nevertheless possible that not only could we remain forever in
Paradise, but that we are currently there in actual fact, no matter
whether we know it here or not.
—Franz Kafka

I cut flowers on my kitchen
table, lay daisies on top of baby’s breath
on top of love-in-a-mist, even out the stems
and drop them into a clean olive jar.

Later I will walk out into the yard shoeless,
charcoal worked through my hair and under my fingernails.
I’ll wrap the trees in bolts of linen and muslin,
muffle the balsam needles with cut silk and twine.

This will take me all dusk and night, and only
Ophiuchus pressing clouds aside to watch.
I will sleep with his eyes on me, blinking in
slow time with the wind.

By morning my linens and string will be
pressed and raveled, stacked in the cupboard,
my flowers spliced back into their fields.
There will be dew soaked into the seams of my clothes.

Tomorrow I’ll try knit wool on the trunks, snip lavender
in place of petals—I’ll stand under the plum trees and wait
for the fruit to ripen and fall for my open skirts.
I will eat each one slowly and wake up starved.

This is a consecrated endless becoming.
Cliffside, sometimes I think not of the falling but
of the running-towards, toes bent and clawing at the edge.
Oh, what peace, to be always on the verge.

Kendall Billig is currently based in Connecticut, pursuing a graduate degree in epidemiology. She is a recent recipient of the Keith Taylor Award for Excellence in Poetry at the University of Michigan. This is her first foray into publication. Instagram: kendall.bil. Twitter: kendallbillig