The Temptation of Adam / snake, apple, tree.
The snake whispers against the ground beneath her, only visible where its tail ensnares her shin, just as her arm cradles Adam. She looms in the center of the painting named for him, the first casualty of passive voice. Adam loiters in his victim narrative. Wood, bolt, glass, snake skin, artificial, narrative recrafted, modern material, wood base, black paint. Do not touch. Adam’s face is a still life in the fall of paradise. Grapes plead with his pinky where she cannot see, their vines sprawling into ivy. Immortality. Excess. She is looking at Adam. Adam, who the visitors laugh at, who gets his name on the frame, who looks ready to run, cry, crumble next to she who cannot. She is remembered for her sin, her hunger, what she held in her hands. What to make of it, center of the room, preceding the painting, never seen first. The snake’s iron jaw. The apple’s fragile skin. She’s not here, listen. She’s not here. There comes a time in every woman’s life when she realizes she’s naked. Pray that her eyes are the first to make the discovery. Are you listening? Pray. Her hands are empty. Isn’t that what they wanted? For women to be hungry? An apple, seeds-out, in the mouth of the serpent. A second, unblemished, in Adam’s faithful grip. Same myth, different language, the original sin, deconstructed. She’s not here. Hunger is the inseverable tether to femininity. Stomachs scream like feral girls who remember their youth, who pound at the garden gate. Retreat to the tale you know, forget the frame that holds the thing together—no one wants to see the screws of this story, no one wants to read that the snake skin is fake. Banishment is for the hungry. It is for those who remember. We were not named during our own damnation. Our names come last if they come at all. It all comes back to her. The fall of man and the death of Abel, all because a woman dared to eat. Snake. Adam.
Emma Avros is a student at the University of North Florida, pursuing a degree in Creative Writing and Psychology. Avros hopes to pursue an MFA in 2024; in the meantime, Avros studies Shakespeare, mythography, and the art of trying not to be annoying about both.