The first moment is like opening a door.
And like closing it without looking inside.
The first moment, there is nothing but me.
The first moment, I hurl a word into the void.
Things emerge from the void: light, heat,
and time. The first moment, the boiling on
earth’s surface stops. In the flickering of a small fire,
women smear menstrual blood on their palms
and press them to the cave wall. The first moment,
the crowd cries, Free Barabbas! A bird cries out
to its mate. The universe is dark because
every star has burned out. The first moment,
a black hole devours a planet, a locust is eaten by ants.
The first moment, the atom splits, the first cell
divides. One hundred million people die
from the plague. One hundred million
die from the flu. There is nothing
but me and a void. The first moment,
a storm starts on Jupiter, a river floods
its banks. A man hunts with a knife. A man
is photographed for the first time. The first moment
is this moment, this one right now. There is
nothing but me. The first question is asked,
the last question is asked. There is nothing but me
and that first moment. And in that first moment, I
ask for water, a woman asks for a child.
Rebecca Cross lives in Vermont and works as an editor at an art museum. Her work has appeared in Harpur Palate, Beloit Poetry Journal, Qu, 805, Always Crashing, and other publications.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.