Alice O. Howell   


The Poles of Eden


 Do not let me mock you, dear

                do not let me hope

                do not let me gather

                                a mother and a father

                                nor ask them why

                after the release of gold

                after the silver of their peace

                after the sadness and the sleep

                                they gave up, turned inward

                                each to each his leaden dream

                and left you weeping in their deep




                for comfort and for love to keep.


                Godself has a great pair of pincers

                                                half a woman

                                                half a man

                and where they close, where one and One

                in pulsing pinch of promise

                                                life begins and love began.


                Oh, constant Adam, taste your apple

                roll your tongue about those pips

                and kiss sweet knowing Eve

                upon her musing lips

 sons and pentacles and steer

                                                her womb will render

                                                and chattel is what those sons

                                                will hold most dear-

                spliced and sliced out of spit and soil, and split

                                One into desperate two

                you seek through sweat and shame

                and serpent dream, and do-

                                and you, poor Eve, aborted all that pain

                                that Self might gain in Abel and in Cain

                                                and Adam called you keening

                                                back to rest - you were his soul

                                                his hope, your breast

                                                and Seth he rendered second

                                                                                                unto death.

                Tell me, son, still young

                and brown, and marked, and hairy

                do you range the desert?

                are you lonely?

                do you range

                where stone and spirit

                make exchange?


                                                if you quest and thirst and rave

                                                for answer, seek the mountain

                                                seek the fountain

                                                in that initiating cave -

                there you'll find a tomb will mouth

                your prick of conscience

                and swallow continents and questions

                the pestilence of thinking

                deeds and fears

                                                you'll pass through such a death of seed to peace

                                                where one in beauty bends to save

                                                to lead you up bright steps

                                                by night-webbed gossamer

                                                to what  you crave

                and at that inner height

                you'll find from apple's pride and root

                from knowledge and apple tomb absolved


                now luminous, now numinous

                your flowering Tree of Light

                your sanctifying Fruit of Life -


                Godself holds  a branch of annulating fire

                and flails his grain

                with  time and with desire


                                                and when all and ever

                                                will be spent     

                                                retted and rent

                He'll gather from the chaff and ash, the spark

                and spin it starwards up

                to spiral out to shimmer in the dark

                                                then rest and smile

                                                know and be charmed by love

                                                filled and fulfilled

                for this

                                ah, yes

                                                is  Wisdom.

This is what She meant.