Mauvais Sujet, by Ford Madox Brown (England), 1863:
If, before He spun off on His own to create Heaven and Earth,
He had taken art classes offered by Pre-Raphaelites in some
other Universe, things here might have gone a little differently
In the beginning, there wasn’t much to do – what
with not yet having to attend to fish tanks, litter
boxes or warfare – so He spent most of his free time
in the Garden. There he often attempted to engage
his companion in intelligent conversation about
mimesis, thermodynamics and composting. But
after a few weeks, He thought to Himself,
You know, this Adam is kind of a dope.
So He created her (not out of a rib, but from one of
those white-hot bolides, which were beyond His
control, and which sometimes came crashing down
to scorch the tomatoes and the pumpkins) as a
diversion of sorts, a way to keep the man
entertained and –
Who knows? Perhaps, in the best of all possible
Worlds, and with a little inspiration, Adam
might invent something wonderful like –
guacamole or iambic pentameter.
After the blinding radiance of her being had
sufficiently cooled, He took one look at her,
invoked His Own Name and said, Ain’t she
He set up a schoolroom next to the stockyard and
tried to teach them some stuff, but they didn’t have
much use for it. Most days, Adam galloped around
the yard with a toy horse he’d made out of twigs,
palm fronds and clumps of his beard. And when she
wasn’t using projectile points to carve her name into
the blackboard and other furnishings, she just ate
figs and glared at Him. The sun, moon and stars
wheeled across the firmament; after a couple
decades had passed, Adam still hadn’t shown the
slightest interest in her.
So, He thought, I’ll make her my Consort. But first,
He said, let’s see how she does taking orders. That
didn’t go so well. She liked to wander in the
evenings. Over by the trees. After she finished the
first pear, she said to her host, Not bad. What else
you got? Before He even knew what was
happening, she had forced the serpent to choke on
his own tail and started roasting the creature alive.
He watched this in a state of abject horror and
muttered under his breath, Jesus! The snake was
lightly charred but still wriggling when He rescued
it from the flames. He cried, I shall put enmity
between the two of you! She said, Go right ahead.
Think I wanted to bring him home to cuddle in bed?
The whole time this was going on, Adam pretended
to be busy eating slugs and pulling the weeds
around the eggplant bushes.
Well, now what? He hadn’t yet thought of process
servers, so next morning He Himself had to hand-
deliver the decree to her. She crumpled it up, fed it
to one of her goats, and laughed. Eviction! she said.
You and whose army?
Ken Mitchell is a former private investigator and business owner. He is a student at the Bread Loaf School of English, and writes occasionally for Dirt magazine. He volunteers with the Petey Greene Program, tutoring students enrolled in college courses at a New York State correctional facility.
The Ekphrastic Review
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