He wakes and whispers “Chimps|
share almost all their genes with man.”
His fiancée, across the twin-bed
hotel room says: “What?”
He coughs. “Nothing. Just a dream.”
He keeps his eyes shut, realizing
his loins are wet with seed.
“You were moaning,” she says, amused,
not accusing. They both know themes
leak out in darkness. Such is flesh,
and such is sleep,
and such are dreams.
His talk, the keynote conference speech, begins.
He dims the lights to show the PowerPoint scene.
A spartan Eden: simply grass, a tree,
the serpent, Eve.
“If my theory is correct,” he says,
“this is what would happen next.”
The audience stills to a pin-drop
as the snake comes close to Eve,
begins to spiral round her naked
skin, scales on shin, on calf, on thigh,
on pubic hair, on breasts, on neck,
raising slickening drops of sweat
until her mouth and the serpent’s meet
and as two tongues kiss, the tail
reaches and presses
She falls on the green,
tightens her hold, widens her legs,
writhes and drags
him deeper, closer, further,
as it builds until,
at last, it
of loud and
There is an urgent murmuring in
the darkened hall.
He lets them settle, then:
“Secondly, we would expect—”
The screen now shows the tree
and Adam, nude, erect, approaching it.
He brushes the bark with innocent
and printless fingers, kneads at the trunk
with palms and wrists, embraces it
until a fork appears, and Adam, gentle,
applies his hips.
Branches sway encouragement and boughs creak,
and then one long slow push takes him in
and roots entangle human feet
as thrusts begin.
Ivy ropes him closer and the wind
in twigs sings louder for release until
nothing can resist
and all that Adam has
He collapses back,
is blanketed with falling leaves,
He presses on, keeping up momentum,
“Thirdly we see—” and further screens show
Eve and the tree growing fat with babies,
which are born and grow and further interbreed
until the garden is a carnival of fur and feet
and wings and roots and tusks, and skin.
“And finally, it is enough.”
The audience studies the slide.
All the creatures ever known are there, distinct.
“And hence the Flood.”
Noah builds. The waters come and
when the tides recede
all is stable, ordered, peace.
Each mates with its own, and
the memory of that wildest time
is softly wiped quite clean.
The only proof, the only fossil, is in the genes.
Hidden, but it’s there, conclusive.
And the audience, ahead of him,
know they have, at last, their answer.
No need for evolution.
No need for cold survival and mutation.
They have their prize—the damning fact
that once was proof against them
is now prime witness to how it all began.
They mouth in triumph that final, clinching, line
—theirs, now—as he whispers it: “Chimps
share almost all their genes with man.”
“Tell me,” she says. She’s not a prude.
They’re unmarried, so they
can’t do everything, but they’re engaged
and that means, compared to dating,
an expansion of the boundaries of touch.
They can make each other climax, within
the rule that inside her is out of reach.
It is enough, for now,
and there is more—much more—to come,
so life is good.
“Go on,” she says, “I won’t be shocked.”
“I know, it’s just I dreamed—”
But he’s ashamed. His briefs are soaked,
and he cannot say that in his dream
he was the snake,
persuading sweat with his scales
and, with his tail, entering the breach.
She’s not a prude, but still. What would she think?
But he doesn’t like to lie, so chooses
another truth. He opens his eyes.
“I dreamt I gave the keynote speech.”
She laughs. “You wish.”
presenting only posters of their work,
too young for high-powered conference talks.
“I’m going to shower,” she says.
He blows a kiss.
She smiles, as the water runs down her body,
at the memory of her own dream.
She was the tree
and Adam came along and
Darwin, dead iconoclast,
never dreamed the miracles
that happened then,
and as the water runs
she doesn’t even touch herself
and still she comes,
thinking of the joy
no Darwinist can ever know:
soon she’ll be an avatar
of bark, of scale,
of sweat-soaked skin,
of broken breath,
of flesh, of letting go.
Soon will be their Eden time, their carnival,
when they are naked in each other’s arms,
and there are no more stops,
just love, and God,
and everything they want to do
it is their wedding night,
their marriage bed,
their dreams becoming truth.