I am no poet. My stubbornly erratic and controlling nature prefers prose as it allows more freedom to explain oneself without limitations. I wrote this for an assignment as an experiment in blank verse and dug it up to find, surprisingly, that I quite liked it.
I have been told before that I am too literary and need to focus more on plot (hence the horror anthology) but reading this made me recall the rewards of spending days poring over a single line or phrase in order to convey a particular sense or feeling. This is an exercise I am keen to take up again as it can only produce better writing.
The inspiration for this poem was all those early morning assemblies where we listened to folk music on the way in before being fed bible stories alongside fairy tales. It struck me recently that I could never tell the difference. In that hall, biblical tyrants, John Denver and the three billy-goats Gruff were all of the same world; a world which my mum happened to have a painting of in our living room. The feeling I got from this painting was utter emptiness and abandonment, terrifying but thrilling to my memory. In reality it was probably just ‘a little bit Abigail’s Party’.
According To Eve
In the beginning all the world was sepia;
I know because my mother kept a picture-
an ochre bridge that spoke of long ago,
a plate of burnished bronze pooled dead below,
when Frith flared crimson, stewed blood orange skies
that warmed the animals who rustled by
the woods where merry men danced to the lyre
and witches sang Cat Stevens round a fire.
A constant copper dawn where none knew night.
Shadows of bones and crows, Shepherd’s Delight.
When I was small and mostly all was bright,
the grass was green like Wednesdays and the night
and day agreed to share the Godless land
and so those bygone times were at an end,
had given way to clocks and parking meters,
corrugated iron, gum, Blue Peter;
unless you were a pupil at our school
who every morning marched into the hall,
a dusky cave where dirty curtains closed
the tired, streaming children in with those
whose tales took place before we were yet born,
who tried and died and learned and prayed and warned;
a lesson in the glorious rewards
that come to you if you submit to God.
Daniel, patched from cut-out, faded paper,
neckless, earless, wearing lace-up trainers,
stroked the manes of peachy-headed lions
and the hero David slayed a cardboard giant.
With aching knees and freezing thighs I sat.
Through gritty deserts formed between the cracks
of dull brown tiles that smelled of old soup skin,
my finger traced the path of the three kings.
A Garden of Eden, built from fuzzy felt,
seduced the innocent ones as they knelt,
enthralled by Jesus’ sacrifice and pain;
the threat of hell was never far away.
Inspired by these arty, crafty men
I went into the world as it was then;
with young teeth bared, devoured forbidden fruit,
and with elation, saw that it was good.