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644: Eve Argues Against Perfection

"Eve Argues Against Perfection"
Diane Lockward

And the woman said, The serpent
beguiled me, and I did eat.

-- Genesis 3:13

Beguiled, my ass. I said no such thing.
You say I lost the gift of Paradise.
I couldn't lose what I never had.

You say the serpent tempted me to eat.
You omit that he entered the Garden
on two legs and walked like a man.

And here's what your story always ignores:
I had pure gold, rare perfume, precious stones,
but Adam hadn't touched me all those years.

Perfection in the Garden didn't mean that way.
Not having it and not wanting it
was God's idea of perfection, not mine.

So when that serpent strolled up to the tree,
all upright and fine, he threw off the balance,
and I began to pray, Oh, let him be mine.

When he held out the apple, so round and lush,
when he stroked it to a keen red glow,
I didn't fall to temptation -- I rose to it.

I ate that apple because I was hungry.
I wanted what lay outside of Paradise,
a world without the burden of perfection.

Now you call all sinful women my sisters.
I say, let them claim their own damn sins.
The apple may not be perfect, but it's mine.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2009 12:18 am (UTC)
Wow. This is stunning. I love it.
Oct. 19th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
I second that wow!

Very powerful, I really love this. :)
Oct. 19th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
I love this. And was reminded me of another:

"Eve" by Ralph Hodgeson

Eve, with her basket, was
Deep in the bells and grass,
Wading in bells and grass
Up to her knees.
Picking a dish of sweet
Berries and plums to eat,
Down in the bells and grass
Under the trees.

Mute as a mouse in a
Corner the cobra lay,
Curled round a bough of the
Cinnamon tall....
Now to get even and
Humble proud heaven and
Now was the moment or
Never at all.

"Eva!" Each syllable
Light as a flower fell,
"Eva!" he whispered the
Wondering maid,
Soft as a bubble sung
Out of a linnet's lung,
Soft and most silverly
"Eva!" he said.

Picture that orchard sprite;
Eve, with her body white,
Supple and smooth to her
Slim finger tips;
Wondering, listening,
Listening, wondering,
Eve with a berry
Half-way to her lips.

Oh, had our simple Eve
Seen through the make-believe!
Had she but known the
Pretender he was!
Out of the boughs he came,
Whispering still her name,
Tumbling in twenty rings
Into the grass.

Here was the strangest pair
In the world anywhere,
Eve in the bells and grass
Kneeling, and he
Telling his story low....
Singing birds saw them go
Down the dark path to
The Blasphemous Tree.

Oh, what a clatter when
Titmouse and Jenny Wren
Saw him successful and
Taking his leave!
How the birds rated him,
How they all hated him!
How they all pitied
Poor motherless Eve!

Picture her crying
Outside in the lane,
Eve, with no dish of sweet
Berries and plums to eat,
Haunting the gate of the
Orchard in vain....
Picture the lewd delight
Under the hill to-night—
"Eva!" the toast goes round,
"Eva!" again.
Oct. 19th, 2009 01:39 am (UTC)
Oct. 19th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
I feel like this poem could have done so much more :|
Oct. 19th, 2009 06:37 am (UTC)
Oct. 25th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
Oct. 19th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
Oct. 19th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC)
"I wanted what lay outside of Paradise,
a world without the burden of perfection."

This poem just...spoke to me so much, especially when my sister's struggling with her own perfectionism. Thank you. ♥
Oct. 19th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
This is exactly what I cannot bring myself to say.

Oct. 19th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
Love the last stanza, especially after the whole barrage of novels and history using eve as an excuse!
Oct. 19th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
I like this one, very much. Thanks.
Oct. 19th, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC)
Beautifully written. I love the different take on the story, and the way she stands up for her choice in the poem. :)
Oct. 19th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
I have seen many authors, poets, and performers give alternate stories of Eve and the temptation. I always enjoy the ones which show Eve as more complicated than the Genesis story portrays. My favorite is in a book called I, Lucifer (in which Lucifer writes out parts of his autobiography):

There was a strange psychic timbre to Eve, sometimes, as if she sensed herself not entirely pleasing to her maker. There were moments when, in some narrow tunnel of her being, She felt God's presence as if she were looking at the back of His head, as if his attention was engaged emphatically and judgementally elsewhere. It made her feel curiously separate.

I--yea, not even I, Lucifer--can't quite explain this front of selfhood that waved from time to time in the mistrals of Eve's heart. [...] There was something in Eve I can only describe as the first cramped inkling of...well, of freedom.

I like alternate histories of the bible, and of this story in particular. Good poem. :)
Oct. 20th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)
Who is that book by?
Oct. 20th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
i like this. it's interesting.
Oct. 20th, 2009 07:34 am (UTC)
"a world without the burden of perfection..."
Great poem.
Nov. 5th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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