Eden in the Rearview Mirror, by Susan Elbe

Eden in the Rearview Mirror cover
The unknown child bending the map at my mother’s bedside, this map of skin in my father’s silver boat, before some music and desire limn the body’s mercator: miracles enough. Dog days snow toward January, and I fly to my father in late August on the Kenai Peninsula, 2 a.m.

Thanksgiving, 1954. My mother isn’t dead, sitting with autumn everywhere I look, apparition, sequela, deciding the heart and everything you take with you. Petition in the middle, garden on the outskirts, love — a definition driven by a short history of burning. Out of the splitberry dark, like horses practicing eternity, the gate unlatched, white radish moon.

If I loved him it would be this way, my angel: reeling in a skate on Kachemak Bay, daguerreotype, light made from nothing. Laudamus, soul suite: why I decided to be born. Now and then, Scheherazade and the lost order Lepidoptera ghost hunger for an inner harbor at the Rio Grande gorge, Eden in the rearview mirror.

The foregoing paragraphs consist entirely of the titles in the table of contents to Eden in the Rearview Mirror, rearranged and supplemented by just a few small connector words. Perhaps this is too light-hearted an exercise for a book of such power and quiet beauty, but it does demonstrate at least how rich a table Elbe sets for the feast that follows. If it leaves you hungry for more, I’ll be featuring a conversation with her next Tuesday on the Woodrat podcast.

(I’m reading a book a day for National Poetry Month. Click on the book cover to go to its page in Open Library.)

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