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by James Graham 

Posted: 16 June 2011
Word Count: 259

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‘It was the snake’, Eve said. ‘It met
my eyes, I could not look away. It seemed
to talk. It seemed to know. It made me feel
that I could disobey, that disobedience
would bring awakening. But there is only
punishment.’ And Abel said, ‘Oh Mother,

Mother, do not weep or be afraid.
This must have been a dream. There are leaves
and tubers in this valley that make dreams.
Have you eaten some? It was your own
snake-voice that told you of this God, this
cruel master. We must not leave this land.’

But Adam said, ‘We must. We must make
our home where the soil is thin and dry.
We know too much, we know too little.
The rabbit and the hare, they don’t know
what they are. I am unlike them only
because I know I don’t know what I am.
I am afraid. We must obey. If we resist
our God, he will afflict us terribly.’

‘Oh Father, Father’, said Cain the farmer.
‘There is a garden within your skull
where axes, plans and gods take root.
This god is a rank weed, a running weed
that stifles fruit and flower. Uproot him,
burn him, clear the ground and mulch it
with your best ambitions. Sow the seed

of another god, a god who cherishes
this land and trusts us with its husbandry;
one who will not damn you, Mother,
to bear a child in sorrow; and Father,
one who will not damn you to die young
from wretched labour. Father, dare to stay.’

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Comments by other Members

clyroroberts at 16:38 on 16 June 2011  Report this post

I've only read this a couple of times James but I think its wonderful. It's made a very powerful impact on me.

I will keep re-reading it and get back with more detailed comments soon.

James (R)

Neezes at 19:28 on 16 June 2011  Report this post
hi James, I'm no expert on poetry but this is certainly very captivating, I enjoyed the use of language and the structure, and it was a really interesting, philosophical and psychological take on the story, I thought.

tinyclanger at 21:40 on 17 June 2011  Report this post
ah yes!
Not going to comment on any mechanics of the piece - I am utterly spent - but jsut wanted to say that I think this is a unque take on what might have happened?

I love the idea that Adam was in a way determined that they shoud be cast out, but his family fought against it, asking him to realise human nature, and to question the existence of any 'god' that could be so harsh and set such idiotic boundaries..
masterful, simple, expertly crafted so that it sounds just like a normal discussion/debate in any normal family..just gorgeous.

ah, I read things like this and I am SO glad to be back.

tinyclanger at 21:41 on 17 June 2011  Report this post
"dare to stay" - marvellous.

V`yonne at 17:56 on 22 June 2011  Report this post
I love the idea of them daring to posess Eden James - the ultimate disobedience being that of ignoring this cruel and inflexible God. I also like the voices you have given to the characters, each with his own point of view. You have given voice to humanity here.
.....................a god who cherishes
this land and trusts us

I loved Adam's fear too
The rabbit and the hare, they don’t know
what they are. I am unlike them only
because I know I don’t know what I am.

this fear of his own self-awareness.
It's HUGE this poem James.

James Graham at 15:18 on 23 June 2011  Report this post
Thanks to all who've commented so far. I was brought up in a very religious family (not over-fanatical, but regular evangelical church-goers - Brethren) so the Eden story and others were imprinted in my head for life. I think even as a child I was disturbed by the thought of Adam and Eve having to leave that beautiful place; I've always thought it a cruel story and still don't understand why this - or Noah's Ark and others too - have to be put into children's heads at all. These stories are not like fairy tales, which I loved as a child - there's cruelty in fairy tales but the Bible stories seem so intrinsically cruel that sometimes I wish I'd never heard them. ('In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children' Eve is told - it makes the blood run cold.) Of course I know many good people don't see the stories that way.

tc, the way you sum up the situation as Adam's family 'asking him to realise human nature' is about as close to the heart of it as anything I could have said myself. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem.

And Oonah, thanks for your opinion that the poem 'gives voice to humanity'. I begin to like this piece more and more...maybe one of my best efforts.


V`yonne at 19:20 on 23 June 2011  Report this post
James, I think a two thouseand word essay might scrape the surface!

Midnight_Sun at 09:59 on 29 June 2011  Report this post
I really enjoyed reading this James,

even though it's biblical and therefore I perceive it to be old (as in Old Testament - although i'm not one for reading the bible), it still comes across as contemporary, especially in the lines:

There is a garden within your skull
where axes, plans and gods take root.
This god is a rank weed, a running weed
that stifles fruit and flower.

To me these lines flashed up quite powerful images, the axes and plans being conflict, wars and civil wars, and gods being that of greed and superstition among other things, that hold sway over people. So we get the broken economies, famine and suffering; sadly there really is nothing new under the sun.

I think it has to be one of my favourites so far, thanks for sharing it!


James Graham at 13:36 on 03 July 2011  Report this post
Thanks, Patricia. I'm not a great Bible reader either, just see it as a collection of old writings. When it comes to ancient literature I prefer Homer!


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