far from the tree

every bite contains
the stigma of desire as sin–
knowledge as forbidden, evil–
the seed that will eventually die

the stigma of desire as sin–
perhaps you are smitten
by what is golden, delicious

knowledge as forbidden, evil–
sweet honey, crisp autumn–
always a malignant aftertaste

the seed that will eventually die–
immortal gods in their gated gardens,
fertilized by the ignorance of man

The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to “write a poem that contains the name of a specific variety of edible plant – preferably one that grows in your area.”  I’ve always been fond of apples and we have many varieties that grow here in New York, including Smitten, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Autumn Crisp. The prompt also asks that we “try to make a specific comparison between some aspect of the plant’s lifespan and your own. “

This trimeric is not is not the first time I’ve considered the story of the Forbidden Fruit. I’ve used Alice Neel’s painting Symbols, below, as a reference on several occasions, as I did for two of the collages above.  And I’ve made many representations of the Tree of Life as well.

25 thoughts on “far from the tree

    1. Thanks Jane. Bosch saw the world as it is, behind all the masks.
      As I told Merril, the story of The Fall makes less and less sense every time I look at it. Except, of course, as a means of control.

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          1. I asked because I would be reluctant to limit the Genesis story to how various people might interpret it. Personally, I see it as like the James Webb telescope — seeing deep into time and space yet revealing the future and the present also. Genesis is poetry. “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” That passage could fit in perfectly with “The Way is like an empty vessel/That yet may be drawn from/ Without ever needing to be filled. / It is bottomless: the very progenitor of all things in the world ….. It is like a deep pool that never dries/ I do not know whose child it could be./ It looks as if it were prior to God.” — from the Tao Te Ching. As to control, I think of what Louise Hay said: that you are the only thinker inside your head. I read a surprising, new-to-me interpretation recently (not contemporary) of the Adam & Eve story that was entirely allegorical with Adam as symbolic of the body and Eve of the Soul and reading the account as about psychological awakening to God. Your poem is similarly an interpretation and has its elements of mystery, symbolism, connotation, and connection to other stories inside its form. I don’t know if other people blindly obey. I assume they are doing what they want to do, or what they think they want to do.

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            1. As usual deep thought from you. I was raised a Christian Church that was full of random rules and blind obedience to them. Which is what I see from most people who claim to be Christian today, and fervent believers of most the world’s faiths. I agree that the Bible should be seen as allegory–tell that to the politicians and courts making our laws, or the people fighting holy wars.

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              1. Politics in the present time has become a way of labeling people as abstractions, afterwards we stop listening to them or seeing their uniqueness. Every person on earth is raised into some form of conditioning, their broad culture, their family culture — how could it be otherwise? But ever afterwards we can look for a broader sphere of life, while still honoring the place and time where Life first set us down. I have to be less concerned with what this or that institution says, and more focused on my own life. It’s the only life I have.

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                1. Someone else was just saying that the other day. It’s true, in the end we can only be responsible for ourselves. And make the most of where we find ourselves in this place and time.

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      1. It’s odd that our so-called progressive cultures are so dead keen on cancelling bits of our recent history, and culture because times and ideas have changed and we aren’t sufficiently confident that the changes have been accepted. Yet a text written thousands of years ago that made apologies for war, murder, incest, child marriage, executions, torture, slavery, the submission of women and enslavement of entire peoples, is still regarded as the yardstick of morality. If defies logic.

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  1. The defiance of the circular collage is a perfect match for this poem. This religious tradition is all straight lines and black and white, but you show the abundant, all-reaching reality. Also I never knew there was an apple variety called Smitten! Being one of my favorite words I’ll have to see if I can find it and see if it lives up to its name…

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    1. Thanks Sun. Yes, the stories are rich, but they take all the symbolism out of them.

      I haven’t seen Smitten in the stores, but I’m going to look more closely at the farmer’s market for sure. There are quite a few varieties grown in NY state.

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