Avianti Armand

Very well, let us imagine the woman exists
and the snake exists and the garden of Eden exists.

And like God, let us begin to arrange
every single thing in its place.

1 a sun to mark the East,
2 a river that branches into four: Pishon, Gihon,
   Tigris, and Euphrates,
3 a number of trees that bear good fruit to eat,
4 a number of birds, a stag and a doe, a boar
   and a sow, a snake,
5 a woman,
6 a tree of life,
7 and a tree of knowledge of good and evil.

A half moon is ready on the side. And a few
stars as needed. This narrow stage is too
cramped for much craft. That pair of trees
take so much space, we can only sneak in
fragments of a day and some remnants of a night.

Then we hear a voice through a fragile
loudspeaker: "Of all the trees in this garden
you may freely eat the fruit, except the tree of
knowledge of good and evil, whose fruit you
must not eat, for on the day you do,
you will surely die."

The chirping of the birds drowns out the Word.
The sun hangs like an orange. The river flows
diagonally from end to end. The animals move
awkwardly. The woman stands beneath the tree
of knowledge. The snake coils down its trunk
while flicking its tongue. In this new world,
only one season is known, light and dark,
evening and morning every day, and everything
that happens in between. Not a single creature
knows of death.

But we know that 'mustn't'
casts an enchanting spell and God has rolled
the dice. On the right question marks
rain down, but no one cares.

Meanwhile, man, the first human, is nowhere
to be seen. An angel floats down and
respectfully reports (before transforming
into light that seeps into a screen), "The human
goes around and names all the living creatures:
the animals and their suckling, the vegetables
and their seedlings."

Several steps before the tree,
woman doesn't exist. As one that is newly made,
she's still unnamed.

Says the woman to the snake:
"I have seen a beautiful creature on the skin
of a frozen river. On its head long shining
locks. On its bosom a pair of ripe fruits.
At the root of its legs a thorny
shrub. And it was staring at me."

Replies the snake:
"It is you. But that knowledge is forbidden."

Says the woman:
"What may I know?"

Replies the snake:
"You are what was taken from man when
he was asleep. You are not man."

Says the woman again:
"When everything in this garden
has a name, why don't I?"

Replies the snake:
"Because man has not named you."

Another angel flies down and plants a bush
of fire in the woman's chest, and her body
becomes restless and impatient.

But man, the first human, has not arrived.
From the screen springs light and from
that light there comes a voice, "He is on top
of a hill, naming the heavenly bodies
and marking the time they rise and set.
Henceforth, humans will know the days and
(Henceforth, all yesterdays will be
imprisoned in yesterdays and today will only
be a tight box. In this new world there is
not yet a chest that's full of stories.)

Says the woman:
"I have not yet known myself. Even my
beginnings I do not know."

She stares at her ten fingers. Her body starts
to feel confused. "Dirt" was written on her
fingers but she remembers nothing of dirt.
"Ribs" was also written, but all she knows is
being several steps away from under the tree.

The snake replies no more. It slithers down the
Tree and winds itself around the woman, kissing
her brow. Her nose and lips. In her bosom, night
falls instantly. In her bosom, a storm brews—
as if it's from the south. Clamor on the stage.
Children of the wind curse the leaves. Animals
stampeding to the side. Trying to hide. The storm
shipwrecks the woman on a lump of tree
and she's blind suddenly.

Behind its eyes the snake becomes human
—a likeness of the creature on the skin of the
river. She approaches. She attaches: the woman
and her twin conjoin. Her body now doubled,
her lips entwined, her torsos wreathing and
feverish, her skin moistened.

A half of yellow moon and seven dim stars
crashed. The woman learns by touching until
screams ring like thunder wedged in the armpit
of the hills. And everything crumbles. The body
and fruits from the tree of life and
the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Afterwards, the storm subsides. And the snake
slides off again. The woman lies stock-still.
But we know that she didn't die.
We only know her body has known.

The man, that first human being, is still nowhere
to be seen. From behind the bushes, the snake
hisses: "Not once will you ever die."

The woman overhears, and awakens
in a dream of fruit from the forbidden tree
scattered on the ground. Like eggshells,
the skin of the fruit is breaking. From inside
angels leap out with night as masks. Each has
a letter carved on his brow. Slowly they fly
and form a clump of dark clouds. And then
one by one they fall like rain. On the stage,
a puddle gathers from broken wings. Bigger
and bigger. Until there is a dark ocean.

The woman approaches and sees on the face
of the black sea a beautiful creature.
On its head long shining locks, on its bosom
a pair of ripe fruit. At the root of its legs
a thorny shrub. And she stares at it.
And is no longer afraid, for she has known it.

She dips her feet into the sea and the sea
opens like pages of a book that keep on
turning. The woman walks farther into
the deep and feels happy. A moment
before drowning, on the bottom of the sea
she sees the face of God, and asks:
"Am I going to die?"

From the mouth of the snake drawn
on the moon, an answer comes:
"Not once will ever you die. But you
will know that you will die."

Afterwards only the man's steps, the first
human's, are heard, he approaches.

On the seventh line on the left, four chairs
from the end, God sits and cries. His hand
holds a dice. On every side is written: sin.

translated from the Indonesian by Eliza Vitri Handayani