Ann Howells: “Interpreting an Illuminated Manuscript”

Interpreting an Illuminated Manuscript

This is the garden, about the business of growth and greening, blossoming and bearing fruit. Lush. Fecund.

This, then, is Adam, broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped, reigning over the garden and all within, subservient only to God. Man is born.

Here lies the serpent, lithesome and long, a black velvet daydream. These are the leathery wide wings of angels and demons that enfold us.

Lilith left.

This, of course, is Eve, cobbled of a curved rib, fist of clay – afterthought, room tacked behind the house to accommodate an unwanted relative. Eve, coaxed and cajoled, plucks forbidden fruit. Sweetness is born. Knowledge is born. Eve covers herself with leaves. Shame is born. Sin is born.

Here are Cain and Abel. Cain raises his hand, slays Abel. Killing is born, and murder, and war.

This is the garden, and the garden is earth. And earth fills with leaf and shoot, tendril and root, leaf and blossom, and all manner of creatures that creep, swim and fly. This, then, man puts asunder.


Ann Howells has edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years, recently going: Publications: Black Crow in Flight (Main Street Rag), Under a Lone Star (Village Books), and Letters for My Daughter (Flutter). Her chapbook, Softly Beating Wings, recently won the William D. Barney Memorial Chapbook Contest. She has four Pushcart nominations.

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