Reaching for Eden was begun during the summer of 2001. Based upon an small black and white photo of my older sister, Barbara with playmates, they are placed inside a completely imaginary environment. "The golden blind child balances, steadies herself, herself , her small hands pressing against the unseen pane." (Maj Ragain, "All Fall Down") The jungle appeared after Joanna, my daughter said, “it’s a jungle out there” about her school’s playground. The colors are verdant and animals swing, slimy and dark things lurk in the stagnant pool and each child is a siren.
This painting is in a private collection.
All Fall Down – A Response Poem to %Reaching for Eden*
The trail to Eden leads backward in time,
along the rim of north Africa,
into the Tigris-Euphrates valley.
Fossils, a child’s footprint outlined in mud,
a blanket of wildflowers imprinted in the stone
at the bottom of a shallow grave.
Then, the trail disappears to the outward eye.
Eden, like heaven, like hell, is within.
Within what we don’t know.
Perhaps Eden is hidden in the hours of the day.
The children beckon just inside
the boundaries of the moment.
They cannot remember their parents,
their names or faces or the last day.
They make words with their hands.
The boy with his arms spread
tells us it is safe here.
The roundfaced girl raises her right hand
in greeting, open palm, without weapon,
standing in the cold, pure waters of the first spring.
The corner boy, flushed cherub,
is a busy bottomraker, crayfish chaser,
splashing himself into stains of green and blue.
The golden blind child balances,
steadies herself, her small hands pressing
against the unseen pane.
It is she toward whom the serpent
lolls, its red forked tongue tining,
I will be your eyes. Follow me.
Lead the others up out of this place.
I will teach you games.
Ring around the rosey.
Pocket full of posies.
Ashes to ashes
All fall down.
Come play with the red dog Pox.
Hide where God can’t find you.
I will give you new words:
Night, sorrow, death.
They will taste like candy.
- Maj Ragain