Kimberly Grey’s poem explores the sweetness and the pain of love, inspired by Genesis 5:2.
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2 male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
This passage from Genesis immediately got me thinking about the word “kind” that was attached to the idea of humanity as it was created. And I couldn’t help but think: but are we kind? Sometimes, yes, sometimes no. And I immediately thought of lovers, how it seems impossible for two people who have chosen to combine their lives together to be solely kind or solely cruel. There’s usually some kind of back and forth between the beloveds. This is what makes the engine go. Keep going. Because I’m working on a series of poems called “systems” (where an idea is repeated in broken down parts or ideas to make some kind of larger statement) I saw that this poem could fit into that project.
The word kind eventually breaks down, becomes kings, kins, rinds, as the larger idea of kindness is explored. I couldn’t help but think of Aristophanes’ speech about lovers, that human beings were originally round organisms composed of two people joined together. But Zeus chopped each of them in two and now, as a result, the lovers go through life constantly searching for the other person who can make him whole again.
Though it may sound romantic, it’s this action of combining two beings that creates difficulty. No person who ever loved another person didn’t experience some kind of pain from it. The poem is interested in that pain, in the erasure that occurs when two people attempt to act as one. There will undoubtedly be some kind of suffering and some kindness around the suffering.
Kimberly Grey is the author of The Opposite of Light, winner of the 2015 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and published by Persea Books. Her work has appeared in Tin House, A Public Space, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, Southern Review, and many other journals. She is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and Civitella Ranieri Fellowship and currently teaches creative writing at Stanford University.