Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Expulsion

Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite brand of humor tends to be a bit on the sexist side. Every chance I get I mock the fairer sex, knowing all the while that it’s only out of complete and utter admiration that I do so.

So when I read this poem, one that starts with the image of Adam being happy because he can now blame Eve for everything that is wrong in the world, I can’t help smiling at the absurdity.

by Katha Pollitt

Adam was happy - now he had someone to blame
for everything - shipwrecks, Troy,
the gray face in the mirror.
Eve was happy: now he would always need her.
She walked on boldly, swaying her beautiful hips.
The serpent admired his emerald coat,
the Angel burst into flames
(he'd never approved of them, and he was right).

Even God was secretly pleased: Let
History Begin!

The dog had no regrets, trotting by Adam's side
self-importantly, glad to be rid
of the lion, the toad, the basilisk, the white-footed mouse,
who were also happy and forgot their names immediately.

Only the Tree of Knowledge stood forlorn,
its small hard bitter crab apples
glinting high up, in a twilight of black leaves:
how pleasant it had been, how unexpected
to have been, however briefly,
the center of attention.

This poet, Katha Pollitt (whom I’ve never heard of other than this one poem), manages to capture all the different perspectives on “the expulsion” from Eden. Adam was happy because he could blame women, God was happy because it marked the start of history, the dog was happy because it is now Man’s favorite, etc… each perspective could be a story unto itself. But Pollitt combines them all to make one, simple tale. What a wonderful piece.

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