Adam in Eden

Shay Swindlehurst

2022 Greg Grummer Poetry Contest Honorable Mention

God had made for Adam a Jungle. 
The Gardens of Eden rioted, strived 
against Adam’s toil. Each day he cut 
the branches back, severed the strangle 
of vines, plucked the fruits and gorged upon them  
so no good thing would go to waste. 
But each morning he found they had grown  
back to choke the paths he had beaten.  
The branches redoubled, the vines 
re-sprawled. The fruits, heavy with ripeness, 
dropped into the darkness of the undergrowth  
where they rotted—filling Eden’s wilds  
with a dank smell that sowed seeds of despair  
in Adam’s heart. At night he dreamt of dark roots  
diving into his flesh as he slept in his bower.  
Supping of him, draining his mind  
back into the ruthless life of the forests 
whose trees were older than his memory. 
He began to forget the names he himself had given, 
that once flowed from his lips as from a font.  
New things he had never known bloomed forth: 
flowers cross-pollinating, organisms combining 
in strange forms that were not spoken in the first words. 

How could Eve appear to him as anything 
but an answer? First a form familiar 
into which he could pour himself,  
to hear his own voice so that doubt became  
a fertile uncertainty. Then, through her eyes,  
he saw again the miracle that was this life.  
The colors of the flowers, the divine purpose  
toward which the profound and visible world worked.  
Her dreams pregnant with light and with wings, 
flame and floodwaters. The images in her speech  
dancing before his eyes in multicolor.  
But from such vision he found himself finally forsaken,  
her mind as impenetrable as the jungle of his trials. 

Shay Swindlehurst

grew up in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts and received his MA from The University of Chicago. Some of his writing can be found in The Airgonaut, Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, Everyday Fiction, and Frontier Tales. He gets into a bit of this and that. Check out his Youtube channel for a couple oddities.

Art: “Farewell” by Nicoline Franziska, Oil on canvas

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