"Because Of Me There Is Just One Narrative..."

Linda Pastan bringing the gamma rays:


Eve On Her Deathbed

In the end we are no more than our own stories: 
mine a few brief passages in the Book, 
no further trace of plot or dialogue. 
But I once had a lover no one noticed 
as he slipped through the pages, through 
the lists of those begotten and begetting. 
Does he remember our faltering younger selves, 
the pleasures we took while Adam, 
a good bureaucrat, busied himself 
with naming things, even after Eden? 
What scraps will our children remember of us 
to whom our story is simple 
and they themselves the heroes of it? 

I woke that first day with Adam for company, 
and the tangled path I would soon follow 
I've tried to forget: the animals, stunned 
at first in the forest; the terrible, beating wings 
of the angel; the livid curse of childbirth to come. 
And then the children themselves, 
loving at times, at times unmerciful. 
Because of me there is just one narrative 
for everyone, one indelible line from birth to death, 
with pain or lust, with even love or murder 
only brief diversions, subplots. 

But what I think of now, 
in the final bitterness of age, 
is the way the garden groomed itself 
in the succulent air of summer--each flower 
the essence of its own color; the way even 
the serpent knew it had a part it had to play, if 
there were to be a story at all. 

I love that first line, and I love the music of this piece and critique of story-telling. This piece is from this month's Paris Review. I urge you to cop. This gem aside, there's a truly haunting short story by Karl Taro Greenfield. I made the mistake of reading it to Kenyatta before we drifted off the other night. Not smart. 
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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