Cain And Maples: The Villain’s Villanelle – Dan Ornstein

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Then God said, “What have you done? Hark! Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground!” (Genesis 4:10)
Abel’s blood was dashed all over the trees and stones. (Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a)

The horror: brother’s blood on stones and trees,
Though Cain’s one thought is clearing evidence.
He turns away with timeless cruelty.

Their God laments that He has made him free
To cry, “I’m not his keeper”, his defense.
The horror: brother’s blood on stones and trees.

Our God, appalled, for He can plainly see
Cain doesn’t hear the plaint at his offense
And turns away with timeless cruelty.

“From earth your brother’s blood cries out to Me.
From this first murder will you learn to sense
The horror: brother’s blood on stones and trees?”

Now, in the Fall, the ruddy maple trees
Recall Cain’s mark and our inheritance:
We turn away with timeless cruelty.

The crimson leaves, they wave Cain’s tale at me.
First crime and all its brutal consequence.
The horror: brother’s blood on stones and trees.
We turn away with timeless cruelty.

Dan Ornstein is a rabbi and writer in the Albany, NY area.

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