Ani Gjika

A Different Origin
July 20, 2023 Gjika Ani



When the snake in Eden approached Eve
he smelled pain—her longing for a notthereness
or an otherwhereness.
He knew then he’d have her do what he wanted.
Don’t we get what we want from people
who expose their wounds?
Only show a man everything from the waist down,
grandma said, never from the waist up.
She meant guard your heart and mind.
Maybe Eve understood—a snake will slither
all his life, his tongue slitting words as he speaks,
his body shifting shapes when he feeds—
a creature that only hears movement.
Maybe she bit the apple to make a new friend.
What if he had told her the truth—look, all I want
is a friend, too, walk with me…

But afraid, perhaps ashamed of need, he spun a tale
and watched her healing take a long way around.
Eve had children and her children a whole world.
I’ll take pain that explodes like that—
a supernova so that the story won’t end.

Ani Gjika is the author and translator of eight books and chapbooks of poetry. Her translation of Luljeta Lleshanaku’s Negative Space won an English PEN Award and was shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize, the PEN America Award, and Best Translated Book Award. She was a 2011 Robert Pinsky Global Fellow at Boston University and a 2019 Pauline Scheer Fellow at GrubStreet. Her memoir, An Unruled Bodywinner of the New Immigrant Writing Prize, is forthcoming from Restless Books (2023).