After the cloudburst I follow the gravel path

to the garden. A concrete wall to my right

deflects the snarls of traffic. Thin woods to my left,

its leafy branches shading the path. From these

an occasional raindrop, one of them staining my sleeve.

Right as the cat-piss odor of boxwoods bites,

I spy through the trees a backside, black like mud.

The path then doglegs left, and there’s a woman

whom I must dodge. Now viewing Eve straight-on—

this black bronze Eve that lowers her head

and with one arm hiding her breasts raises the other,

hand to face palm outward, forefeeling the blow—

I picture the woman, a trim brunette

in slim black slacks, whose sallow complexion

was horribly pocked … as if the blow struck her

instead. The blow? A look that scars.


As Rodin’s Eve looks like black mud or tar,

there was about her features

an earth-emergent look, a clayeyness,

that makes me at first forget: Adam only it was

for whom God modeled clay; for Eve, carved bone.

Soon, however, I have in my mind

a bone-white Eve, like a marble antiquity,

whose perfectly oval face with chiseled features,

catching a look that puts her down,

grows lumpy, sallows, shading to russet—becomes

if not exactly clay to be kneaded and pinched,

something of earth: an apple, yes, of earth

with eyes like scars that bud and probe the dark.


I turn from Eve and have to squint.

The after-shower suffusion of sunlight hurts,

and there’s a thrilling scent, which piques the mind

with a fragrance from childhood: the zest

in clothes that dried in the sun.

Even after every house in the neighborhood, ours

included, boasted a dryer, my mother preferred

to hang the washing on backyard clotheslines—and did so

until new next-door neighbors with bird dogs laid

a concrete slab and erected a hurricane fence,

and up at the property line goes a kennel

breeding flies that speckle

the pillow cases and sheets,

those otherwise radiant whites

that billow, flap and snap,

rummaging high and low for wings.