From the Vault: ‘APPLE: HE SAID SHE DID, BUT’

Here it is: # 2 in this (weekly?) series of revisited / revised poems from previous collections.

As noted in the first of these ‘From the Vault’ posts, I’ve always been a compulsive revisor of poems. Lately, I’ve been consciously re-visiting (and subsequently revising) a number of older poems.

In some cases, the revisions are as minor as a punctuation change; others involve different physical presentations like a new breaking of lines or an overhauled stanzaic pattern / approach. There are also pieces that underwent more substantial renovation.

Recently,  I’ve been reading Richard Holloway’s Godless Morality. Its discussion of the stories of creation and the fall (and their role in Christian ethics of sexuality) got me thinking of Adam and Eve, and  — more specifically — of a series of poems I’d written ‘re-telling’ their story in one way or another.  Below is an updated version of a poem that first appeared in  how we play at it: a list  (ECW Press, 2002).  In this case, the edits reflect some major stanzaic alternations, among other things . Enjoy:


                                all things being equal, the high

pitch of the front door’s hinges screeches into the maw

of his attention.                     his esophagus slams shut.

atrophies, like the snap of light that invades

and then retreats a room when a mum or a dad checks up

on you at night.                    and it is stuck – his bite;

wedged at the difficult frontier between

the tongue’s determination and the stomach’s stubborn

pull. (he feels her watching him, her knowing

he knows that she is watching him.) and his breath

is a sweet chore, whistling. caught,

now his self-assurance, like mercury, is sweating

from his brow and smattering into thousandths

at his feet; squirming wet between his toes.

curses breathe themselves like headaches, heavy, into his ear.

he faints.

                and in the tumult of her rescue,

the fiction of their affection – their love – is fractured,

like a rib.

                (and later, with it left stabbing

about: jagged, and poking – digging at him – as he lies there

in their bed, waiting for the soup

she’ll soon be bringing, he knows

full well – already

how he’ll explain this. the exact wording of it

rising in him; a bile. familiar, sharp.)