Sarah Wedderburn – We have cast ourselves out

We have cast ourselves out

after Masaccio

Over the door floats an angel,
his blackened sword raised
in case we change our minds.
Adam covers his face, I my nudity.

We are fresco. Adam says
art brought us to life. He says
we are naturalistic, with rounded bellies,
rendered in chiaroscuro—almost the first.
We were painted fast, on plaster.
We were painted on separate days.
Adam was fine with Paradise.
I’d had enough.

That is one serious angel.
Going back is not an option.
So we rush through the creamy portal
into the world beyond the painting’s edge.
We are the departure of the symbolic,
Adam says. We are real.
We are different.

He was happy to stay. I never thought
it was up to much, Eden. I felt patronised—
you know? God just sent rules
from on high. He was remote,
he had no mandate.

We are chalky white. My face is my shock.
We lacked for little but—it’s hard
to explain—it wasn’t ours.
That serpent insisted we could
take back control. I wanted
that. Now, I am sore afraid.

We have cast ourselves out.
We are the departure of the symbolic.
Look at us—we are bombed by shame.
Adam and I are fresco.
We were painted on separate days.

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