“What is love?”

I had to know.

No word had ever crossed my lips
or mind.
No such thing I had ever felt
uttered from any mouth,
God’s or Adam’s;
but this Serpent thin unwarming lips
spouted such a word.

He smirked and looked at me
his red eyes set on me, his visions
leaving my stomach churning
yet my mind yearning
to know of this feat of which
he spoke.

You (still sleeping) did not hear a word.

The Serpent loosened his coils
from around the branch, the Fruit still entangled
in his tail; then his head turned back
and he began to slither down
the thick sturdy trunk
until he was once again up
above the ground
and his eyes were (once again)
back in mine.

Love” he began,
“is what God does not want you
to know of – love is what would keep
with you
and your body

I looked over at you, still sleeping.

How, I imagined, could you ever
leave me? leave this place?
leave this Garden which we have made
our own?

“What is it?”

“It, my dear, is more than
is confined in the gates
of this Garden;
it is far beyond any and all
things you know in this place
and it is what will keep Adam
bound to you forever.”

My eyes began to water –
a feat Adam nor I had seen
in the Garden.

“Why would he not be bound to me
forever? Why do you speak such
despicable things? We rule over this Garden
together – we obey Adoshem
and keep this Garden for Him –
we make the beasts ours
and the flora is ours for our mouths;
Adam tills the land for Adoshem
and I keep him rested and fed
so that God remains pleased with His creations.
We are bound to this Garden;
Adam is bound to me.”

The water on my face was warm –
the salinity ran into my mouth
and my breath became harsh,

“He is bound to you in body
and body alone – his labors are not
for your sake or his: they are for God’s.
He does only what Adoshem tells him:
he lies with you because Adoshem tells him;
for that and nothing more.
But with this succulantness,
he would be bound to you forever
and you would be bound to him
in a manner beyond the confines of this Garden.”

“How do you know?”

“My dear, I know things of love,
and this is a thing of love.”

He turned his head back to the branch
where one ruby Fruit hung
from the end and it dangled
in the gentle breeze of the Garden –
a drop of water trickled over
the thick ripe flesh
and onto the grass below where it

“He will say with me


I reached up,
my eyes still streaming,
and with my pale fragile hand
I plucked.

I slowly put the Fruit
up to my moistened lips,
looked over at the Serpent,
who moved his head toward

I saw you there sleeping:
your back still glistening
from your sweat, your body
moving with each inhalation.

How badly I wanted to feel that breath.

I grazed my teeth against the flesh
and slowly yet fiercely
took a sweet

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