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Eve and Pandora Walk into a Bar


Eve and Pandora Walk into a Bar
by Lori A. Claxton

Ladies’ night
at the Golden Apple
Pub.

Lilith is there,
nursing a Zombie
cocktail.

“Come on,” says Dora, “let’s just go.”
She tugs Eve’s fig-colored sleeve.

“No,” says Eve. “We can have a drink.”

“Maybe she won’t remember you,” says Dora,
hopeful.

“She’ll remember. First wives always remember
their replacements.”

They sit,
order drinks,
pretend they do not see Lilith.

       *

Ladies’ night
at The Golden Apple.

In a black-shadowed corner
is Kali,
arm-wrestling all comers
four at a time.

In the biggest booth,
Brigid, the reluctantly sainted,
regales Diana
and her nectar-sipping entourage of scandalized virgins
with lurid tales of her days
as a goddess of fertility.

Lilith, at the table
of ophidian Echidna
and Angrboða, the giantess,
coos incongruously
over baby pictures
of their monstrous children.

       *

Halfway into Eve’s third appletini,
the evening turns sour.
“Everyone blames us
for the world.”

“Yes.”

“‘You ate the fruit,’ they say.”

“‘You opened the box.’ It was a jar, by the way.”

“I know,” says Eve (who does,
because she’s heard this before
more than once).

“A beautiful jar,
full and round as a womb,
pregnant with possibility,
ready to birth wonders into the world.”

Eve thinks of her children
and says nothing.

“Another round, ladies?”
Eris, the barmaid, smiles brightly
and sets two glasses on the table
with a discordant clink.
Then, unremarked upon, she moves on.

Dora, lost in memory,
caresses her goblet,
full and round,
streaking the frosted glass
with her gifted fingertips.

Eve, forgetting
herself
and her children
and Lilith,
falls into a reverie of her own.
“The fruit was sweet.”
She dips a finger into her glass,
remembering.

“I wanted to see what was inside,”
says Dora,
“to draw out its gifts.”

“I wanted to taste what was inside,”
says Eve,
“to drink in the knowledge.”

“What’s wrong with wanting?”

“What’s wrong with wanting?”

       *

The barroom brims
with reluctant brides,
the abducted and abused and misused and maligned,
the canonized and the cast aside—
Hippolyta and Persephone,
Erzulie and Freyja and Ishtar,
two tables of Zeus’s seduced,
and all the nymphs and goddesses.

As Eris weaves among the tables,
offering refreshment,
assessment,
suggestion,
their voices rise to raucous cacophony.

“I never wanted—”

      “—to be a bride.”

       “—to be a saint.”

       “—to be taken.”

       “—to be left.”

“They call our children monsters.”

“They want us to be pure.”

“They remember us as they wish us to be
but never as we are.”

       *

“It wasn’t even an apple,” says Eve.

“I know,” says Dora (who does).

“I like apples of course”—
she sips her drink
in demonstration—
“but still.”

“Yes.”

Maudlin, Eve admits,
“I’d do it all over again.”

Then Lilith,
flanked by her newfound friends,
pauses by their booth.
“A few of us are going out,” she says,
“to raise a little Cain—no offense.
Care to come?”

Eve’s eyes widen
in naked surprise.
“With my husband’s first wife?”

“That was a long time ago;
and besides, I left him.
And to hell with him,
anyway.”
(She adds, aside, “No offense,”
to her towering tablemate.)

The virgins have left, in search of a nightclub.
Zeus’s lovers have gone, in search of a storm.

“Come on,” says Dora, with a wink,
“let’s just go.”

“Yes,” says Eve. “We made the world.
We can take it.”

      *

Exeunt all—
every maiden, mother and crone,
mistress, monster,
bride and beauty—
but for the barmaid,
who smiles as they file out,
to unleash the terrible truth of themselves
upon the world.

* * *

Lori A. Claxton draws inspiration from folklore, fairy tales, and the natural world. She feels equally at home in forests and books and has been known to get lost in both. Lori lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband George and lots of books and yarn. Some of her other work may be found here: medium.com/@loriclaxton

Where do you get the ideas for your poems?

I draw inspiration somewhat serendipitously, from things I’ve seen or read—whether everyday objects or half-forgotten folklore—and try to pull them together and shape them into something new. My poems often begin with the planting of a few distinct images or strings of words; I water them with what ifs, and (if I’m lucky) they grow.

2 comments:

Juliana Khadyxa said...

Marvelous! Absolutely brilliant!
Your style of writing is funny and witty, and I love how subtle you are in speaking about how women are usually remembered.

Lori Claxton said...

Thank you so much, Juliana! It means a lot to me that people enjoy my writing.

All the best,
Lori