Eve, Woman, Lilith

Illustration by Anna Carter-Hernandez

 

Eve

I tried to be soft,

tried to be gentle and delicate

but i’ve got a body full of bones and

sharp edges.

I’ve got blood

—red hot blood!

pumping through these rope-veined arms.

I tried to be soft but I was always

too human.

 

I tried to be small,

tried to fit in the palm of your hand

but your fingers just wouldn’t stretch

and I’m not showing any signs

of shrinking.

 

I tried to be tangible,

tried to make my body into something

I could give away

but you touch me and it is like a malediction.

You touch me and I am

transparent.

 

I tried to be Eve but I knew

I was Lilith.

I tried to flee Eden

but you turned me back

into dust.

 

But still I am trying,

I am trying all the time.

 

Woman

I come from a long line of women

riddled with creases and

fissures,

 

with crow’s feet and

sagging jowls,

 

bags dark and heavy under the eyes and

hair thinning at the root.

 

I come from a long line of women

time has not been kind to,

women who have not aged well.

 

But what else could you expect?

When our women are taught to fold

and unfold

day after day,

 

to be soft and malleable

like wet clay in their hands,

 

to bend without cracking,

to stretch without tearing.

 

My mother tells me to smile with reserve (laugh lines),

to drink my coffee through a straw (stained teeth),

never smoke, only drink in moderation (premature wrinkles, dull skin)

so one day I can die lovely and youthful

having never really lived.

 

My mother tells me not to make the same mistakes she did

“Because look at me now,

do you want to look like this one day?”

 

But I have watched her let my father

wreak havoc on her once beautiful face,

watched her marriage turn her body to a battleground.

 

I come from a long line of women

marred by father time.

 

My mother looks into my face

still full of such resilience

at 20 years old.

 

She looks at my face

like a preserved relic of her past.  

 

So I tell my mother not to worry,  

one day I too will turn old and grey,

the spitting image of her

once again.

 

Lilith

We tell our daughters to be gentle,

to treat others with kindness,

to turn the other cheek.

 

We tell our daughters to be beautiful,

well-mannered, quiet,

and soft. To be something holy

in a room full of sinners.

 

But your body is no altarpiece.

 

I have seen your skin shatter razor blades,

I have watched you stitch yourself back together

after he tears you limb from limb.

 

You are not gentle, you are resilient.

 

So abandon their scriptures,

they are of no use to you anymore.

 

Break down the door screaming,

passionate,

loud, and ugly.

Be the ugliest thing in the room.

 

Show them you are so much more

than his fragile rib bone.

 

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