‘We Didn’t Die’ a poem by URC poet-minister Lucy Berry

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We didnt dieAs a child, reading the story of Adam and Eve, I was convinced that God's prediction of their death had not come true. It seemed to me, then, that leaving the garden, and the proximity to God, were not death. I see things differently now.

We Didn’t Die

‘My dear ones, don’t go near that tree,
for you are both so dear to me.
And you will die. And then you’ll cry
and so will I,’
said God
so dreadfully.

‘The poison of a single leaf
gives agony beyond belief
and you will die. And then you’ll cry
and so will I,’
said God
so fearfully.

‘Eat what you like and wander free.
But, taste the horror of that tree
and you will die. And then you’ll cry
and so will I,’
said God
so earnestly.

‘Do not go near and do not touch.
There’s nothing matters half so much.
For if you die, then you will cry
and so will I,’
said God,
so mournfully.

The serpent sniggered, winked, and said,
‘Your God is silly in the head.
How can you cry if you are dead?
God wants you blind and in the dark.
Of all the fruit-trees in this park
this is the fruit to make you wise,
with juice, to open up your eyes.’

That heavy-scented fruit bowed down
so low it nearly touched the ground;
long branches reaching out as if
inviting us to take a sniff.
The colour of the fruit was such
we wanted to reach out and touch.
and God was far off, out of sight,
and so we took a tiny bite.

The clouds blew in. The sun went out.
We heard God somewhere close about.
We found we were unclothed; we hid.

‘Why have you done what I forbid?
Why did you both these poisons take
the venom of the evil snake
and venom of that fruit I said
would hurt you, hurt me, leave you dead.

‘I gave you life. I gave you warning.
I gave you everything every morning,
for you are both so dear to me -
and yet you chose the evil tree.
I said you’d die. And then you’d cry
and so would I,’
said God,
so tearfully.

We’re frightened and we are in pain.
Our eyes cannot be closed again
We’ve brittle minds and chilly skin
from all the trouble we are in.
We’re naked so we went and hid.
But we didn’t die.

‘Oh, yes.
You did.’



Lucy Berry is a poet, a mum, and a minister of the United Reformed Church. Her website is at www.lucyberry.com and she's available to perform, preach and lead workshops.


Picture: Olivier Miche/Unsplash

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