Now the earth was formless and void,
and darkness was over the surface of the deep. —Genesis 1:2
Birds don’t sing.
Jazz don’t swing.
Bees don’t hive.
Men don’t jive.
Life swims before it flies.
Life crawls before it leaps.
Before houses, men don’t build prisons.
Before fences, coyotes don’t kill chickens.
And then earth is partitioned.
Trees teach birds to perch.
Birds teach frogs to jump.
Frogs teach girls to skip rope.
Girls teach words to sing.
Songs sing before sin.
Sins teach women to pray.
And then prayers teach hate.
Women aren’t spoils of war.
Black men don’t swing from trees.
Landmines don’t amputate boys.
Kids don’t drown in the sea.
Alternate end line: Kids aren’t shot at their desks.
Originally published in Lavender Review.