Encounter: Scott Cairns

“The Entrance of Sin” by Scott Cairns, from Recovered Body

Yes, there was a tree, and upon it, among the
wax leaves, an order of fruit which hung plen-
tifully, glazed with dew of a given morning.
And there had been some talk off and on—
nothing specific—about forgoing the inclina-
tion to eat of it. But sin had very little to do
with this or with any outright prohibition.

For sin had made its entrance long before the
serpent spoke, long before the woman and the
man had set their teeth to the pale, stringy
flesh, which was, it turns out, also quite with-
out flavor. Rather, sin had come in the midst of
an evening stroll, when the woman had
reached to take the man’s hand and he with-
held it.

In this way, the beginning of our trouble came
to the garden almost without notice. And in
later days, as the man and the woman wan-
dered idly about their paradise, as they contin-
ued to enjoy the sensual pleasures of food and
drink and spirited coupling even as they sat
marveling at the approach of evening and the
more lush approach of sleep, they found within
themselves a developing habit of resistance.

One supposes that, even then, this new taste
for turning away might have been overcome,
but that is assuming the two had found the
result unpleasant. The beginning of loss was
this: Every time some manner of beauty was
offered and declined, the subsequent isolation
each conceived was irresistible.