by James Bryan Simpson
I am the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the apple in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam and Eve to not eat the fruit of this tree, and to not touch the fruit, or they would die. They were obedient to God’s wishes.
But Satan, in the form of a serpent, told them they would not die. He told them that if they ate the fruit, they would know good and evil. In their nakedness, they believed the serpent.
Adam and Eve went to the center of the Garden of Eden, to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and they saw me, the fruit of this tree. They marvelled at my firm ripeness. Their eyes grew wide as they noticed my shiny scarlet skin, so much bolder than their own lips, which God had given them. They picked me from the tree, and I came readily into their hands. But when they tasted me, the sweet juicy fruit, they disobeyed God. The serpent had deceived them.
God cursed the serpent, and made him crawl on his belly for his entire life, and to be hated and feared by all humankind. Adam and his male heirs, God sentenced them to a lifetime of hard labour, and then death. For Eve and her female offspring, God sentenced them to know pain during childbirth. And God ordered Adam and Eve to leave the Garden of Eden. God gave to them and to all of humankind the ability to know shame and evil. When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they saw they were naked, and they clothed themselves.
God looked at me, the pomegranate, with displeasure. In the Garden of Eden I was a beautiful tree, but I am no longer a tree; I am a shrub. My fruit is no longer a perfect sphere, shiny and scarlet and smooth skinned, juicy and sweet and beautiful. I am now a common fruit—scarred, bruised, mishandled, not appreciated. You cannot pluck me from the branches; no longer will I drop willingly into your hand. If you try to pick me, you will damage me. If you want me, you must cut me free.
For centuries, I’ve been ignored. Cut and harvested occasionally, but more often left: to get over-ripe, to lose flavour, to split and fall to the ground; and there to rot, food for goats and birds and worms.
But I am relevant once more. My arils—my babies in waiting—are promoted by many as an anti-oxidant of great excellence, an anti-aging miracle, a preserver of life. They are harvested without mercy, without feeling. People, you who inhabit the earth because of Adam and Eve, all of you will die. Do you not realize that you are here for only a short time?
You do not know me. But artists do not know me, either. Michelangelo painted me as a fig tree, Dürer as an apple tree. They cannot be blamed; the fault lies with Jerome the Scholar. In the fourth century BC, he was ordered by Pope Damasus I to translate the Hebrew Bible into Latin. Jerome accepted the challenge. He translated without malice, and he made a pun. Malus, he wrote. An adjective that means bad or evil; a noun that means apple. A bad pun, and it has caused confusion ever since.
I am pomegranate, the apple in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Look at me and weep.
Editor’s Disclaimer: Throughout history, the forbidden fruit has been depicted in different forms. Different biblical scholars have believed it to be a pomegranate, apple, grape, or fig. However, its true nature is still ambiguous.
James Bryan Simpson enjoys writing fiction and creative nonfiction, and reviewing work from other writers. His short stories have appeared in Fifteen Stories High, Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop, Polar Expressions, CommuterLit.com, Close to the Bone (close2thebone.co.uk), and Quick Brown Fox (quick-brown-fox-canada.blogspot.com). He formerly worked as a pharmacist and in the pharmaceutical industry. He and his wife live in an old stone farmhouse on a rural acreage within driving distance of Toronto.