The Thief

September peaches in my neighbor
Adam’s garden, ripe to fall,
Tempt me to play at being Augustine,
To seek a way across the wall,
To steal the fruit and call it sin,
As if it were a great offence
And worthy of confession.  Who would
Believe his life a recompense
For stolen pears?  Or that theology
Hung from the branch of one small tree?
The thief may prove a saint, but I,
No less bewildered though less bold than he,
Will wait the gardener’s offer or some
Unknowing Eve to bring to me
That fruit I would not dare to take,
And thus avoid the threat of sanctity.


Published in Arizona Quarterly, Winter 1970
Best Poem Award, 1970, Arizona Quarterly