eve is a palindrome

for Mary Cappello

eve is a palindrome,
its time-trough center
the intersect
of yesterday/ tomorrow

eve is always
fraught with magic:
budspring bonfires
on every hilltop,
virginal dreams
of future husbands,

witch brooms anointed
and flying,
Nutcracker abductions,
the false clarity
of first champagne;

the eve of wanting
better perhaps
than the day of having;
the eve of counting
the dead who outnumber
our friends still living,
all the more poignant
in its ripe wealth.


eve is a palindrome,
a boy-scratch icon
of two breasts
and a guess hazarded
of what’s “down there.”

eve is a palindrome:
in Milton’s paradise,
self-seen in water,
then ripple, then
double-self, no —
it is Adam. Even
the metre is mirror’d
around eve’s
solipsism.

eve is a palindrome,
semiote of evil, Devil,
evolution’s creation-crack,
Greek snake alarm
of evohe! evohe!
as if to say
“If woman comes,
can snake be far behind?”

“eve is a palindrome”
is in itself an anagram,
ten times varied:
Love me, in despair.
I, opal, seven-armied,
(ever a lapis Domine),
O Spire, leave a mind!
A love inspired me, a
piano, severed mail.
Are divine poems a reel,
a paved line? Is Rome
pined? Lo, I am a verse,
a palindrome. Is Eve?

The above poem is a riff, a word play, inspired by Prof. Mary Cappello's own lingering over the word "eve" in her recent reading from her memoir, Called Back. Mary delights in pursuing metaphors down rabbit holes into unexpected places, and her terrifying intellect burns bright in her searing new book. This poem in no way reflects the gravitas of the "eve" over which she mediates: the eve before receiving a cancer diagnosis, a division of one's life story by a "line down the middle" (Woolf's climactic phrase). Instead this is an improvisation of the sort she enjoys provoking in her students. I hesitated to offer it, but when I said, "Did you know that "eve" is a palindrome?" there was no holding it back. Mary urged me to post the poem, slight as it is. It was fun unfolding ten anagrams of the poem's first line and weaving them together. The "eves" in the early stanzas are May Eve (Walpurgis Night), St. Agnes' Eve, Halloween, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. The Milton reference alludes to a kind of metric mirror that Milton creates around the moment when Eve first sees Adam, reflected in water.

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