Lucas Cranach the Elder, courtesy

Eve Paints the Apple Tree
by Lynn Pedersen

after lines from Cesare Pavese’s “Grappa in September”

Her problem, of course, is that she was never a child,
and so hadn’t the opportunity

to know the tree as a sapling, to climb
its branches, bark roughing her thighs, but only

viewed it with the distance of an adult.
Now it’s a question of staying on task with the story

of suffering a great pain. To climb
perhaps another higher tree,

and look back into Eden at the lost crown,
to paint what she remembers later

of that last day: the sky’s blue witness, the leaves slick, glistening.
And the snake—had the snake not spoken? Was it

her imagination, trick of the shadows?
She must variegate the color of bark: siennas, umbers,

ochers, reds, even green moss. Branches
may break off during their lifespans,

may be riddled with knots, regrets.
Cover her right eye and look with the left,

then reverse: each eye sees color differently.
How does she paint the temptation? Every limb and leaf

of before and after? The fulcrum where everything
stops to ripen? Regret a tart yellow.

Black for secrets. Her children must know that the ochres and umbers
even now conceal fruit that would fall at a touch.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 4.

Lynn Pedersen’s poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in New England Review, Poet Lore, The Southern Poetry Review, and The Palo Alto Review. Her chapbook, Theories of Rain, was published by Main Street Rag in 2009. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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