Poetry by Tracy Marks

After Eden
copyright 2000 by Tracy Marks
(creative writing assignment for Finding
Your Jewish Voice, Hebrew College course)

Drawing upon your own experience, or your knowledge of
the Old Testament, write a story of reconciliation. Allow
yourself 20-30 minutes.

After Eden
copyright 2000 by Tracy Marks

They barely spoke to each other those first few days out of the garden. They could have cooperated in constructing shelter and finding food, but Adam chose to build the hut himself from stones, while Eve wandered through the scraggly brush in search of anything edible.

Each afternoon, she brought back a meager supply of berries, figs or nuts, dividing it into two, and handing the larger portion to Adam. But he barely acknowledged her, turning quickly away to eat his share alone, as he continued to heap stones upon stones. He was intent upon building the foundation of a house that would protect them, he hoped, from the increasingly hostile elements.

At night, under the open sky, they slept on beds of leaves, wrapped in their separate skins, their backs toward each other. If upon waking they found themselves face to face, they dared not look into each other’s eyes.

Was it their mutual shame or their blame of the other that kept them apart, exiling each other as they had been exiled? Perhaps it was both, and their own terror of this wilderness into which they had been thrust, with so little knowledge or preparation for the tasks which confronted them.

As Adam fell asleep at night, a repetitive refrain played in his head:“Foolish woman…….How could you do this to me?……..Why didn’t I question you when you handed me the fruit?…... Why did I  eat? …… Adam, you foolish man!….. How will we survive out here?……Will we ever return to Eden? …….  God, have you abandoned us?……Will I always feel so…..alone?”

Eve too wrestled with her own torment, haunted by accusing inner voices each day as she searched for food under the glaring, unrelenting sun. One day, her thoughts railed against Adam for blaming her when God discovered them covering their nakedness. The next day, she despised herself for having been so easily tempted, and the next day, condemned the serpent for his deceptions. How could she, an innocent, have suspected such treachery?

Sometimes, she even raged against God, for not telling her directly thatthe fruit was forbidden. He had, after all, only told Adam, and days before creating her. His prohibition therefore had not seemed real and powerful enough to restrain her from the promise of sensory  pleasure, compelling knowledge and the promise of godliness.

One day, his muscles aching, Adam decided to rest from carrying stones, and asked Eve to switch roles with him. Knowing she was expected to obey, she relented, but not before seeking to instruct Adam on the of food gathering.

Perils? Adam did not believe there were perils. So he stalked off into the wilderness, only to return hours later, pale, and clutching his stomach, retching and moaning with pain.

It was only then that he learned that each day Eve had subjected herself to a risky experiment, tasting of much that she found in order to determine which foods were edible and which were not. Indeed, Eve had often clutched her own stomach in agony because she had eaten the wrong berry or mushroom. But only in this way was she able to identify the foods that were safe to bring back to their home, and give to Adam.

Because Adam was suffering, Eve placed her warm hands upon his stomach to soothe it,  and heaped a pack of the moist dark earth upon his flesh to suck out the raging fire that burned there. She also gave him water in which she had dissolved a herb that she learned would bring relief. Finally he slept, her hand on his stomach, one arm draped around her shoulders, holding her close.

When dawn burst forth, in all its radiance, Adam woke and opened his eyes, and saw the lovely woman in his arms, with hair shining golden in the morning light - a woman whose independence and curiosity and quest for food and knowledge and betterment was only likely to serve them both now that they were out of Eden.

For the first time in weeks, he did not feel alone. He wrapped his arms tighter around her, and wrapped his legs around her thighs, and as she opened her eyes and met his gaze, he tasted the fruit of her lips, and it was good, oh so good, and he tasted it again, and she tasted him, and they knew the sweet juices of the fruits of their own bodies, and they were one, discovering their own Eden.

It did not happen in the Garden, as some believe, for there they already felt their oneness, and did not need to regain it. It was only out of the Garden, after Eden, after knowing Exile. Tasting of their own fruits then, they two DID become like gods ...... for now they too could create life, as God had created life in them. 

And this was how the first man and the first woman first made love.

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