Robin Rosen Chang


What if they’d never touched it,
       never wanted to disturb the bees 
swarming the orchard, 
       sticky before pollinating

the many fruit trees—fat figs, 
       blood oranges, 
pomegranates so red 
       they made the apples look brown.

Some people say it was olives
       they weren’t to eat.
Or seeds. Those sunflowers
       in the garden—

a distraction! Adam wanted
       to play hide-and-seek,
so Eve crouched
       between the stalks

while he ran in circles,
       searching wildly, 
yoo-hooing every few seconds, 
       till he stumbled over her. 

And who needed knowledge?
       It was overrated—
thinking about free will, 
       existence, their role 

in the garden. What was 
       the point? Perhaps
it had been wheat
       they weren’t supposed to eat.

Gold, yes, but brittle,
       husked and dry.
Or what if there’d been
       no forbidden food?

All those sermons
       and great art:
Michelangelo’s ceiling, 
       Bosch’s left panel,

Dürer’s engraving,
       The Fall of Man,
Adam and Eve,
       curls in their hair,

privates sheathed by giant leaves,
       Eve receiving
a palm-sized globe    
       from that twisted serpent.

What if it had been a stone?


My mother’s arm reaches
                             out of the water
                                                and slides back in.

Then the other arm. Repeatedly,
                            they appear and disappear
                                          as they move her through turbulent ocean.

                                                                  She’s swimming diagonal to the shoreline,
                                            almost like someone
                            caught in a riptide.

                    But she’s not. She’s going calmly—
    of her own volition, retreating

from the beach where I lie.
                      I squeeze my shut eyes hard.

                                                    A sliver of her face
                  appears, a waning moon,
when her head turns

                                    after every second stroke. Her mouth opens
                           just enough
      to pull in air that holds life in her.

                    Fixed on something
                                            she seems to see, 
                                                                    she keeps going.

She doesn’t struggle.
                    The current
                              doesn’t batter her.
                                            It doesn’t carry her off. 

She’s a white spot in the water—
She’s taking herself away—

Robin Rosen Chang

Robin Rosen Chang’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly ReviewThe JournalCream City ReviewNorth American ReviewThe Cortland ReviewZone 3, and others. She was the recipient of the Oregon Poetry Association’s Fall 2018 Poet’s Choice Award and an honorable mention for the Spoon River Poetry Review2019 Editor’s Prize. She has an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.