The problem with paradise

Nothing to think about all day until I bit –
and met the heady taste of disobedience.

Could I have known that this was paradise?
In a world that’s perfect you can’t see perfection.

But once I’d met that subtle yellow eye
a feeling grew, so strong, urgent, so entirely new

I had to touch, to grasp, and understand this difference:
his body, mine, this thing that He called nakedness.

Adam was angry. Why wasn’t I afraid?
For death became the price we owed

for living, knowing, the secret things we did
together in the heat and dust. We conceived

our sons ourselves, with opened eyes. Though
now we toil all day, sweating to grow enough

for living, wrestling to raise it from the stony ground,
I wouldn’t go back, I wouldn’t change my life.

Now we, like gods, knew what He knew, saw
our lives for what they would become: hard labour, age,

the good, the bad. Yet I have a secret. Old Adam snores beside
mebut I knew that different flesh, that flow of muscle round the

slant pupils dark as apple seeds. I remember being young,
the lean coiled body in my arms, the flickering tongue.

Beatrice Garland

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