Three Poems by Eva Bertoglio

Creation Myth of a Name

First there was Adam
and he was told to name,

night hawk, fern, agate,
and then Eva, made of rib

and the promise of a wife
without the earthly rebellion

of Lilith, mater of archangels,
demon, catalogued as one

of eight unclean animals. Only
Eva is remembered now.

Eva, not Eve the younger
creation of divinity

but Eva, old as language
and two silver scrolls.

I was named without priestly
rites but a whisper of Eva,

Evie, Evangeline was sliced
and Eva I became.

I think about bone and earth
and women, demons and archangels.

I was named but not created from man’s body.

 

What Lies Outside

This universe
a stretch of vantablack velvet
seeded with shards of light

this fragile chrysalis
this glowing purse—

Go far enough
and you will not find
mere space beyond space

but an identical earth
with an identical you

an Echo
that will not know your name.

 

Clairvoyance

Past

This is the
moment

that flickers in the darks
beneath your pupils, sepia,

degraded, where every instant
of your mundane youth

becomes ripe with meaning,
a jackfruit

ringed with milk-sweet seeds.
Time is syrupy, dripping down

your kiss-stung lips,
as you recline in the passenger

seat of your lover’s car,
the briny wind tangled

into your sun-streaked hair,
bare feet on the dash,

driving closer to the salt-
stung waters and scalding

sands you seek in the south.
You are silent,

staring at his bare chest,
the angle of his jaw,

thinking how the bone
cuts his face into a dangerous

silhouette and his eyes
are hidden by mirrored

silver sunglasses, unreachable.
All you can see is yourself,

a set of twins,
unraveling.

As if you know what is to come
but it is like a dream

that shivers through every layer
of your body but melts from your mind.

Present

You have not seen him in years,
this man built from a boy

you once loved,
and bitterness floods

your tongue like copper coins.
He looks past you as if you are far

beyond the blistering orange
horizon, and the waves

which reflect blinding light
from the glaring summer sun.

His whispered apologies
can’t be heard above the roaring

of the ocean, the swelling in your skull.
You turn hard, metal-toothed,

tell him that even when
you were underneath

him, he was beneath
you.

The words are silken,
they wrap around you

and cool the heat
which throbs just below your skin

as his hazel eyes open and close,
looking through you,

like you have become unrecognizable.
You drive away without glancing

into your mirrors,
not wanting to see him haloed

by the last ribbons of dusk light,
as you race towards nothing

but the crackling storm-clouds
building above your head

and you do not regret anything.

Future

You will drive home
from the coroner’s office

alone. Your husband will believe
your cousin has died

and say nothing when you swallow
three white pills with a mouthful

of jackfruit juice and walk wordlessly
through your slick glass house

to lay in the sand as tension is stolen
from your muscles and you sink

deeper to keep from shivering.
Burrowing in the beach

you will wish this was your sarcophagus
and that the supple oblivion

coating your skin will be balm
to the memories that sear,

and you can forget
that you are no longer young,

and what has been said
can never be unsaid,

but remember the boy whom you loved
who will drown

in the embrace of the January sea.

 

Eva Bertoglio is a visual artist, poet, lifelong Oregonian, and current Portlander. She is a graduate of the honors college at the University of Oregon and the author of the chapbook ​First Winter of Persephone.

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