This is Bradford Tice’s poem, Lilith, from the Spring/Summer 2005 issue of the minnesota review. Since appearing in the minnesota review, Tice has gone on to publish two full collections of poetry, Rare Earth and What the Night Numbered. He currently teaches at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. Find out more at https://bradfordtice.com
Sometimes the Garden was witch-grass, kaffir lily,
anemone—and sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes
the names came like smoke, others like water.
If you think it woman’s work to bend in the garden,
then Adam was a cunt. I have moved through so many
mirrors in this life, I no longer have to look to find
my lips. To fit in this current age one must be steel,
crow’s feet. We have all of us sinned in pride.
I wanted life in excess, the garden gone to seed.
You wanted the zephyr baptized in petrol, cum
upon, and bridled—No! It can’t begin like this
again—knives drawn, wrists tied. There’s something
I have to say to you. When I left Eden, it hurt you,
how I coupled with the common and unlighted,
how your bright face was never reflected in theirs.
So we named again in the clearing—whore, limp
dick, prick tease, Daddy’s boy. You weren’t an easy
man to suffer, and I, no garden variety. Sometimes
it was raindrop-brilliant, bat-fur-softness, lamb’s wool.
Sometimes it wasn’t. Our mistake, to ignore this sadness.
¹In Hebrew mythology, Lilith was the first wife of Adam, who was replaced by Eve due to Lilith’s headstrong insistence that she was Adam’s equal. As punishment, she was thrown from the Garden and cursed by the Lord to never be able to bear human children. However, she is said to have later coupled with demons and given birth to the succubi.
Dan Melling is a poet from England. He is currently studying for an MFA in Virginia.