Snake song ~ a short story

A woman once lived in this garden. Every day I watched her sleeping. Sleeping soft on the greening grass, on her back beneath the tree. So beautiful, with her body pressed close against the ground. Sleeping, her body like the body of the earth – mountain breasts and dewy places. Scent of flowers, and of oceans.

Waking, walking, she moved around the earth, floating above it on tiny feet, circling around the earth like her sister moon.

I desired her.

Down from the tree I wanted to live beside her and coil around her. I would climb down and softly awaken her and whisper in her ear:

“It is beautiful here,” I would say.

“Beautiful?”

“You are beautiful as the earth.”

“What do you think of when you lie on the grass?” I asked.

“I think of sleep,” she laughed.

“And when you eat a raspberry, how does it taste?”

“It tastes like food,” she said.

“Do they not taste wonderful?” I asked.

“Wonderful?”

“How does the grass feel on your feet?”

“It feels like grass.”

“Does it not feel delicious?” I asked. “Does each blade flexing, yielding gently to your weight not make your body quiver? Not make it want to move and dance and roll and sing?”

“I do not understand,” she said.

“What does make you want to sing as if you were a bird? What makes you feel as if you could fly as they do?”

“I do not understand,” she said, and left to find him.

Daughter of ocean, sister of Moon
Turn and open your eyes
I can show you everything
I can give you the earth and sky

Slowly I realized that her beauty belied her. But I could not believe that something as beautiful as she could not hold something within as beautiful as the beauty she shown, alone, lying on the grass. She did not know she was even alive. She had never thought to climb a mountain, had never seen a valley. Not knowing she was born, not knowing she would die.

She could—she should be, more, I thought. If she opened her eyes she could be a goddess.

You do not know what it is to live
Don’t know what it means to die
I can show you everything
I can give you the earth and sky

I wondered what it could be that made her diminished. Why she did not understand when I sang to her of mountaintops, of the birth of spring and leaves’ final flourish before they die. I wondered. And I followed. I followed her each day and wondered why she of all creatures was so blind.

I watched and wondered if, perhaps, it was something she was lacked from our garden. Something she had not yet experienced, that lessened her awareness. Some missing piece. Her life seemed simple. She ate vegetables, she drank water, she ate fruit. She sometimes even ate meat, which I have seen makes the wolves sing and dance, shout and howl. I watched the game carefully, and then I saw. She ate everything all other creatures eat – everything but apples.

Silly, I thought, why not eat apples. Red, ripe, appealing, delicious. He did not eat apples either. Could it be so simple?

Wake and see me next to you
Turn from where you lie
I can show you everything
Give you the earth and sky

I watched her asleep on the grass. So peaceful she always is. I thought, perhaps – perhaps it is because she does not see behind things, does not hear the inner voices, never wishes for what she has or is not. Perhaps it is because of this that she is so peaceful. Perhaps within this lay her beauty.

Perhaps with every angel comes a demon, with every pleasure a sorrow. Perhaps my eternal loneliness is the price I paid for my occasional ecstasy.

But if she were here with me, if she could understand, I would never feel that loneliness again. I could show her the shapes of the clouds as they drift by, we could listen to the singing of the crickets together and sing back at them. Never to be lonely again!

Is this why I want her? Is this why I wish to give her this gift? Is it to cure my loneliness by sharing it with her? But why should I be damned to suffer this loneliness eternally alone? Why have I been given this fate? And if the apple is the answer, is this answer not to be taken?

I have within my grasp a gift to give. The gift of the taste of wine, the feel of silk, of cool rain on skin. The pain of death, the exultation of rising again. To dream, to yearn, to love.

I climbed down from my tree and whispered in her ear—

Come with me child
Awake and rise
Stay with me forever
As we roam the earth and sky

And she awoke. I said, “Do you not eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden?”

And she said, “I may eat the fruit of all the trees of the garden but the tree in the midst of the garden. If I eat of it or touch it, I shall die.”

“You surely shall not die. If you eat that tree your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be goddess.”

And when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the senses, a fruit to be desired, she took of the fruit, and ate.

Her eyes opened, and she shouted with joy. She leapt and sang and rolled in the grass. She knelt at the flowers and inhaled their perfumes. She gazed at the sky and laughed. She plucked a raspberry and slowly chewed, weeping at its sweet taste. Then she thanked me, hugging me to her, and picked another apple.

“Another already?” I laughed.

“No,” she said, “this one is for Adam. I must share all this with him,” and she ran off to find him. When he saw that it was good he too ate – and laughed, and danced, and cried. They adorned their bodies with the leaves of my tree as I watched them dance together.

Alone again, I watched them.

I watched them in their joy until one day they decided to explore beyond the garden walls.

And were gone.

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