a poem by Rue Richardson
“Can it be sin to know, can it be death” - John Milton, 'Paradise Lost'
I’ll confess I’m cold blooded,
but when I first saw her the frigid blood melted molten in my veins.
I knew instantly, if the world caved in around us I would coil around her to shelter her from hail or hellfire,
I would fashion my scales into gilt golden armour and swathe her in my body for a chance to entwine around her ivory limbs, or enlace with a lock of maple-red hair.
I feel like I’ve been plunged into a midwinter ocean whenever I see her,
everything apart from her blurs like starlight in water,
my hearing muffled and the searing shock of her beauty as paralysing as the gasping shock of cold water,
but also as comforting as the moments before drowning are said to be,
intoxicating to be so close to both immortality and oblivion.
Fashioned by divinity,
A quietly subversive reflection of he who made her, like the glassy surface of the lake she likes to admire herself in.
The creature I instantly deified, designed to be adored and worshiped,
So I oblige, and worship,
the nascent spring vitality that flushes her cheeks,
her skin of moss, velvet, and crushed grapes draping each lithe limb
and crystalline clear, blue Celestine eyes that bore into my dreams,
eyes ignited with the kaleidoscopic colour palette of light glancing off the surface of stained glass stream.
That first vision of her poured through me like spilt wine,
staining my every muscle, tendon, tissue in me through to the marrow of my bones,
a searing current coursing through me, cauterising every atom, piercing each nerve,
until no part of me was left unblemished by her.
The god that made my Eve called her an ‘Ezer’,
a name in an old language he also gives himself.
Meaning saviour, protector, devastator.
It broke the heart I didn't realise I had to see her diminish in blind obedience,
The beautiful lights in her eyes dulled and glassy with the belief she was less than man, who told her that to be an ‘Ezer’ meant to be a helper,
Secondary and subjugated,
Her duty to effect self-effacing lowered eyes and flinching glances.
This paradise is a narcotic cocktail of apathy and ease,
inebriating perfumes of petrichor, wood smoke, pollen and fruit sugar
that bleed into your psyche dampen your mind, leeching into your thoughts,
she’s been gifted everything she could need in life,
apart from what makes it worth living.
How can my love know comfort without pain,
how can she know love without heartbreak,
how can she know beauty without horror.
This paradise is anesthesia, a numbing half-existence.
I had to give her that.
That knowledge, freedom, power.
Imagine the joy it would be to watch her learn to think for herself,
to argue, challenge, defy, shout, hurt, accuse.
It would be worth damnation for the rest of time if I could look on in pride at her reveling in independence.
Listening to her echo the words I had whispered to her, as she enticed the Man
‘Just one bite’
that slight laugh under her voice,
like water falling over pebbles,
love welled inside me.
The very first transgression,
when my woman dared to taste knowledge.