cover image Eve


Annie Finch. Story Line Press, $11.95 (66pp) ISBN 978-1-885266-36-1

Women's experiences, past and present, real or invented, fill the pages of this engrossing debut. Nine sequences of lyric poems are organized around ancient goddesses, including ""Brigid,"" the divine ancestor of the ancient Celts; ""Coatlique,"" the oldest pre-Columbian deity; ""Nut,"" a goddess of African, and, later, Egyptian mythology; and ""Aphrodite."" The poet puts her own spin on the events of Genesis in the compelling ""No Snake"": ""Inside my Eden I can find no snake./ There's not one I could look to and believe,/ obey and then be ruined by and leave/ because of, bearing children and an ache."" Finch, who co-edited A Formal Feeling Comes (1994), reinforces the power of her invention with musical and rhythmical lines, as in ""Strangers"": ""She turned to gold and fell in love,/ She danced life upside down./ She opened her eyes again/ and asked some strangers in."" Among the formal structure employed in several of the poems is a Welsh form, the Awdl Gywydd, and, a four-beat accentual line, found in Sumerian poetry. ""Coy Mistress,"" (""You've praised my eyes, forehead, breast:/ you've all our lives to praise the rest"") is a witty response to Marvell's ""To His Coy Mistress."" Similarly, in ""Still Life,"" the poet imagines the life of one of Vermeer's subjects, outside the frame of the painting. In clear, modulated language, Finch deftly captures the immanence of these figures and their stories and compares them to particular experiences of modern women. (Apr.)