john g
By John Guzlowski

Eve stood there
for a moment
and watched her grace
dry up like water.

Whatever sunshine
had lingered on her skin
was gone

and when
she looked at Adam’s face
she wondered
what she could say
to him.

They had words
of course—
They learned them together
but neither spoke.

What could
she say?


Next time,
it’ll be different?

I didn’t understand?

She just shook her head
and he did too.

(Today’s poem originally appeared in The 2River View, and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

John Guzlowski’s writing has appeared in Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, The Ontario Review, The Polish Review, Exquisite Corpse, Manhattan Review, Modern Fiction Studies and other journals both here and abroad. Czeslaw Milosz wrote that Guzlowski’s first book of poems, Language of Mules, “astonished” him and that he had “an enormous ability for grasping reality.” Guzlowski’s poems about his parents’ experiences in Nazi concentration camps appear in his book Lightning and Ashes.

Editor’s Note: Today’s poem participates in the ancient tradition of midrash, the questioning of and commenting upon what is written in the Bible. I have been engaged in midrashic studies both in my academic and creative pursuits for many years now, and whenever I come across poems that take part in this ongoing discussion I am drawn to them. The Bible is the foundation of Western civilization, but despite an unconscionable number of narrow-minded of readings and prosthelytizations, The Book is not a static enterprise, not a fixed proscription, but is a living, breathing entity, the questioning of which leads to an understanding of modern (wo)man.

On this series we have seen Betsy Johnson-Miller question the story of the fall, Father Kilian McDonnell question the patriarchal authorship of Genesis, William Kelley Woolfitt explore the story of Samson, and today John Guzlowski joins the mini-midrashic tradition being written within the pages of As It Ought To Be. May the questions be relentless and the conversation never end.

Want to read more by and about John Guzlowski?
Listen to the poet reading today’s selection on The 2River View
Garrison Keillor reading Guzlowski’s poem “What My Father Believed” on The Writer’s Almanac
The poet reading selections from Lightning and Ashes on youtube
Lightning and Ashes blog
Buy Lightning and Ashes on Amazon
Read Okla Elliot’s interview with John Guzlowski here on As It Ought To Be


  1. In this, existing, paradigm of dysfunction~~~Eve and Adam both shake their heads. however, from another perspective~~~that of the kabbalah~~~Eve is venerated for her courageous faux pas!


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