The Problem with Eden
from The Problem With Eden,
winner of the 1985 Armstrong State College Prize,
the Armstrong State College Press, © 1985 Elisavietta Ritchie. Cover illustration by the late artist, poet and fiction writer, Hilary Tham.
A skinny chapbook but not only was it reassuring to win a competition, but some of the poems, like cats, had extra lives. Thus "Clearing the Path" resurfaced in When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple, an anthology with many lives and editions.
CLEARING THE PATH
My husband gave up shoveling snow
at forty‑five because, he claimed,
that's when heart attacks begin.
Since it snowed regardless I,
mere forty, took the shovel, dug.
Now fifty, still it falls on me
to clean the walk. He's gone on
to warmer climes and younger loves
who will, I guess, keep shoveling for him.
In other seasons here, I sweep
plum petals or magnolia cones
to clear the way for heartier loves.
[When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple, Papier Mache Press, Sandra Martz, editor; Belles Lettres; The Problem With Eden winner of the Poetry Society of Georgia's 1985 Armstrong State College Prize, the Armstrong State College Press, © 1985 Elisavietta Ritchie; Each In Her Own Way, Elizabeth Claman, editor, Queen of Swords Press, 1994; Elegy For The Other Woman: Selected & New Terribly Female Poems, Signal Books, © 1996 Elisavietta Ritchie; a prose version in Flying Time: Stories and Half-Stories, Signal Books, © 1992 & 1996 Elisavietta Ritchie.]
"If you have bare space left over,"
wrote the artist Botero,
paint in a snake.
Was that the problem with Eden?
Too much wholesome growth
and holy productivity
of seed and chlorophyll,
all those fat animals who could not
have been eating each other up,
not in that blessed jungle
of almond trees, pear, plum, apple.
Still, at the oasis border:
one barren corner,
patch of desert where nothing
had taken root or set foot,
cried out for completion
and in slithered the lizard.
[The Problem With Eden, winner of the Poetry Society of Georgia's 1985 Armstrong State College Prize, the Armstrong State College Press, © 1985 Elisavietta Ritchie]
With a cover illustration by Hillary Tham, The Problem with Eden was the winner of the Poetry Society of Georgia's Armstrong State College Press Chapbook competition in 1985.
"The choice was difficult, but ultimately, her assurance, wide range of tones and voices, and her cnsistently high quality won out. I enjoyed reading the selection very much..."
Dr. Lorie Roth, Judge for the 1985 Poetry Society of Georgia; Armstrong State College Press Chapbook Prize