Conversations after Eden

Jan van Eyck- The Ghent Altarpiece - Adam (detail)

“Why do you blame me?” This night,
she held back no longer her need to assuage.
“You were with me
when I ate!
You heard that wicked creature’s enticements!
Why did you not protect me? Why were you silent?”
Bitterness ricochets off the cavern’s walls; even
punishing did not satisfy, nothing did.
The accusation echoes —  then she is wrenched
with guilt at the muffled sobs of the man. He never
wept.   Always that flinty gaze, even when
exiting the garden.

Then Cain wakes. She turns from the man’s side
to the child; he nestles at her comforting breast,
and slumbers again. Adam murmurs, finally, “Woman,
I forgave you, as I named you. You are ‘Giver
of Life’! Eve, forgive me — or  the promises
will wither, as all our crops have done.” She hears his plea,
she ransoms fear, her fingers drip with liquid myrrh,
to open the handles of the bolt, yet he has risen from their bed.
And another day she must endure of
her soul failing when he spoke.

He groans, feeling his body’s bane, the chill of Fall,
and an ebbing fire. He sees an ebony mamba,
a sneering glint, slithering away
towards the field’s briers, and though he knows
her seed would smash its head, he will taunt a snake.
“You are finished!” His voice sounds ridiculous in
the empty silence. So Adam wearily waits for
more light, yearning for that dawn
when the sting of thorns will be ended, and
his children will not return to dust — only be made new.

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3 Comments on “Conversations after Eden”

  1. Karen Butler Says:

    Well, don’t YOU wonder what they said about it, to each other? I have done, and this year after beginning at the Beginnings of the One Year Bible, and really reading it, and meditating on it, and being moved by the pathos of it, I applied what I can only pray is a sanctified imagination to the task of speaking about what the Bible does not, and only hints at what could be. I can only hope I have done better than a pathetic and cliche-filled psychodrama, filled with purple prose. Chesterton said, if anything is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. I will persevere in the hope of doing well. If I have tainted anything for you in the narrative, please forgive me.

    I was also influenced by my friend Neil Folberg’s recent series of photos, “A Serpent’s Chronicle”; relay the story of the Fall of Man as observed by the Enemy, and you may see a preview here at:, This poem is an way of working through my irritation, because I wanted so badly to photoshop the man into Neil’s image of the woman eating the fruit! There is some tiresome and unbiblical patriarchy in vivid display there. Because she gave some to her husband, “who was with her, and he ate.”

    Do you see the Fall at work here in my musings? Oh, I do, I do! Oh, all the guilt, and shame, and blame, how heartbreaking it all is. I am making a point about relations between the genders that have been so corrupted by the Fall. I thought of how it followed them out of the garden, and pierced their children’s hearts, as well. How it pierces mine, still.

    So there it is, the author’s text-notes. I hope they were helpful to anyone who might be puzzled. And I highly recommend a look at Neil Folberg’s website, which has a collection of vintage photos of Israel and Judaica, as well as his own stunningly beautiful photos of that desert land. The site has a dizzying array of his other images, reflecting his eclectic interests, like astronomy, as seen in the breathtaking series, “Celestial Nights.” Go on a virtual museum tour. You will be edified.

    Get something beautiful for yourself, and send some shekels his way,or attend his next show in New York, (March 11), or visit his gallery in Jerusalem. Times are hard for starving artists, (and would-be poets!). And a thing of beauty endures forever.

  2. mkayla Says:

    I, for one, can certainly relate to her anguish in questioning –
    Why do you blame me? Why did you not protect me?
    Why were you silent?

    It is a heartache lived for a lifetime.

  3. Karen Butler Says:

    Ah M’Kayla, how you have exposed for me the fig leaves I had sewn for myself; all those text notes! (I have never done that before with any poem, I think they should stand alone, unless I see people are not getting it.)

    I was redirecting my own attention. I was hiding from my own poem. The echoes still reverberate; I have always winced when I read my own words “Why do you blame me? Why did you not protect me?
    Why were you silent?” And why I changed the original title, “Conversations after Eden”, to “A Conversation after Eden.” I feel my own stiffened back,and my own need to forgive. The title will change,and God Bless You My Sister, my heart too!

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