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Heads Up poetry column: Eve


Clever, he was, so slick

he could weave words into sunshine.

When he murmured another refrain

of that shimmering promise, “You

shall be as gods,” something with wings

whispered back in my heart,

and I crunched the apple—a taste so good

I just had to share it with Adam,

and all of a sudden

we were naked.

Oh, yes, we were nude before, but now,

grabbing for fig leaves, we knew

that we knew too much, just as the slippery

serpent said—so we crouched all day

under the rhododendrons, trembling

at something bleak and windswept in our bellies

that soon we’d learn to call by its right name:


God was furious with the snake

and hacked off his legs on the spot

And for us

it was thorns and thistles,

sweat of the brow, dust

to dust returning. In that sizzling

skyful of spite whirled

the whole black storm of the future:

the flint knife in Abel’s heart,

the incest that swelled us into a tribe,

a nation, and

brought us all, like driven lambs,

straight to His flood.

I blamed it on human nature, even then,

when there were only two humans around,

and if human nature was a mistake,

whose mistake was it? I didn’t ask

to be cursed with curiosity, I only wanted

the apple,

and of course that promise—to be

like gods. But then,

maybe we are like gods.

Maybe we’re all exactly like gods.

And maybe that’s our really original


From Perfidious Proverbs and Other Poems: A Satirical Look At The Bible

© Philip Appleman.

Philip Appleman is a Dis­tinguished Pro­fessor Emeri­tus at In­dia­na Uni­ver­si­ty. He is editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Darwin. He and his playwright wife, Marjorie Appleman, are both “After-Life” Members of FFRF.