Offering the Apple | Donald Illich
We were tired of offering the apple,
being rejected. It was wisdom
we were giving, after all, that glowing
orb that everyone wished to capture.
But people turned their backs,
continued to live on forever,
and they felt it wasn’t a curse.
Sure, things never changed.
If you were a pilot, you stayed one,
and if you raked feces at the zoo,
that was your job, too, until
the end of time. No one trusted,
though, that the last sleep was restful,
or that heaven would show up
as a reward. They had heard
of eternal punishments, where angels,
the blessed looked down and laughed.
It was better to hear the same “Hi,
Honey,” from the bride who kept up
with her nervous tics, moistening
her lips, scratching her forehead.
God could’ve come in and changed
things, but he desired to see how
we would do. To show humanity
the shining city in the clouds,
a celestial Disneyland, where all
wishes came true, as if we were unreal
estate agents, selling the best property
in the universe. They looked
at the mortgage one bite could give,
the pain, the aging, for a promising
mansion in the stars, if contractors
came through, if sins and faithlessness
didn’t make them slow down, quit
before it was completed for good.
Donald Illich has published poetry in The Iowa Review, Fourteen Hills, and Cold Mountain Review. He won Honorable Mention in the Washington Prize book contest.