16 August 2015

Adah: The Curse

Genesis 4:19-24

"Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3:16b)

Why do I keep coming back to you?
Why do I seek what causes me pain?
Why do I rush into the arms of my prison?
Why do I repeat the same mistakes?

So many times I could have left -
what made me stay?
So many times I had had enough,
enough of your violence,
your senseless cruelty.
What drew me back?

What keeps me here
with a vengeful man,
a cruel man,
who repays manifold
the smallest injury,
who sows anger
and reaps hate,
perpetuates this darkness
we're already living in?

Why do I not
take my children by the hand,
turn my back,
run far away?
What keeps me here
under your thumb,
dirt beneath your feet,
flesh to be used and cast aside,
the brunt of your fury?

Is it hope that you'll change,
or that I might change you?
Is it desire for the father of my sons?
Is it pure stupidity,
or fear, paralysing me?
Or is this a curse,
running through my veins,
binding me to my pain?

I want to love you,
but loving you is pain.
I want to leave you,
but find myself trapped
in a web of dependence,
of responsibility.
I want to be your helper,
surrounding you with love -
but love is not enough
and it's destroying me.


[July/August 2015]

I have been wanting to write a poem about Gen 3:16b for years. Mainly because it's the verse that comes to my mind every time I allow a man to hurt me and get away with it. Of course not as an excuse for not standing up against him, but as a description of the tendency to pretend whatever upsets you about him is "not so bad" because of your feelings for him. Caring for someone can blind against his faults, sometimes to the extent that one even accepts some pretty bad treatment before realising it doesn't have to be that way.

Anyway, I put myself in Adah and Zillah's shoes a bit... (whose situation is way more extreme than anything I experienced.) Lamech is described as a violent man, swearing vengeance on anyone who causes him the smallest hurt, so I imagine he would not have been the kindest of husbands either. Since he proclaims his "oath" before his wives, I suppose it's a warning to them too, not to come against him. So this is basically about how despite suffering under her husband, Adah finds herself unable to leave...

I do believe it would be better for her to leave. Also, I don't think Gen 3:16b "binds" anyone to an abusive relationship. But leaving is not easy - and those days it was even harder, since women were so dependent on men for protection. Sometimes it's clear what one should do (e.g. in this case: leaving an abusive husband), but other things like fear, dependence, responsibility etc. get in the way or make decisive action harder!

(Often for lesser-known Bible women I write a "shared poem", since writing two points of view on the same thing - especially if it takes a lot of imagination to figure out the story behind women who are mentioned only by name, with little or no additional info - doesn't always work out. This time, though, I'm splitting the pair because I had two ideas. Zillah's poem might follow soon.)

Picture by Jan Sadeler.

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