Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AVE EVA, by JOHN BROOKS WHEELWRIGHT



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AVE EVA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Wild strawberries, gooseberries, trampled
Last Line: And trampling the gooseberries and the strawberries.
Subject(s): Adam & Eve; Bible


Wild strawberries, gooseberries, trampled;
sweet single roses torn; I hoofed to a ground
where a woman sat, weeping over a wounded bird.
"O silent woman, weeping without tears;
"O weeping woman, silent on this ground
"more withered than the barren; may I not help you heal
"the suffering of this wounded bird?" I said.

"But let your hand first mend the axle of this wheel,
"O scarlet-handed, azure-eyed," she answered.
"Let your eyes find the balance of these scales
"fashioned from two of my sons' brain-pans."

"Woman with scale and wheel and wounded bird
"more disconsolate than a child with broken toys;
"first, I beseech you, uncripple this wounded bird
"whose sufferings give to the mute universe
"measure of its own pain." With no reply
the frightened woman, more frightened, for an answer
dropped her frightened eyes to the unanswering
eyes of a third skull between her feet. Then I commanded:

"Get up. There are more skulls hid than the three
"skulls seen. Get going on your business!"
"You flaxen-faced and purple-lipped!" she cried,
"My business is to gather up my strength;
"my purpose is to mend the axle and the hub;
"and my intent, to find the balance of the scale."

"And . . . were the balance trued, were Adam's
"dust, which was your dearest flesh and blood,
"sifted over Abel's hunger-murdered eyes, --
"should the scale tip; my apposite pan
"I would then load with the bones of the warring hordes
"of goodly Abel's brothers, Cain and Seth . . .
"Leave your gray ground, Eve, go along with me."

"Satan," she said, "when my car moves I move.
"And the bird will fly. Its flight will heal its wing.
"I, and my best sons, Cain and Seth, require
"them who wish the bird healed mend my car.
"The bird cannot be healed except by flight.
"And when I move and my car mows the roses,
"let dust and bone mold and slowly close
"Abel's insatiate, unanswering eyes, --
"you azure-eyed, you flaxen-faced, purple-lipped and scarlet-handed!
"The bird will fly. Its flight will heal its wing."

Then I departed as I came, tearing roses
and trampling the gooseberries and the strawberries.




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