Eden: An Outline

A road map to paradise

I. The question has been can I accommodate this Eden
A. Without apples or Adam
B. The only thing slithering, the black sky wriggling free of the stars
C. The smoke tree
1. hazy poofs of rusty fuzz
2. like a circle of unshaved redheads in mid-striptease
D. Not hyacinths, not hydrangeas
1. but six-foot-tall stalks covered in unlanguaged vulgarities
2. put my ear close and hear something like Fwahhh
a) Fwahhh, darling
3. the lipsticked center
4. stamen the color of cream beaten toward butter
E. Smoke tree sitting back and blowing smoke rings
II. The erotic as Eden
A. In grade school, a kid said the clitoris is a pip or a pearl
B. He said fucking had to do with a finger
1. and a Dixie cup
C. Then I learned that women were flowers
1. and fucking had to do with pollination
2. and bee stings
3. sometimes the stinger gets stuck inside
a) that’ll kill a bitch
III. What if Eden is a storage container for withheld wisdom
A. Withheld withheld withheld
B. My grandmother at ninety-two letting tears rim her little fox eyes about how her husband, after all those ducks and geese and heaving the mess of bluegills on the porch for her to clean, decided to give up hunting
1. his glass eye finally won the argument about killing, which it had been having with the good eye
2. after all those pinfeathers, she said
a. and let out a long withheld sigh
IV. The white-tailed bird comes close until it decides to be afraid
A. I see the mechanism of fear
1. not a gear in the brain but an old decision that digs a grave that erodes into a canyon until nearly everything
a. falls in
B. Fear, with its largesse, its spangled silver gown, its icy bracelets
C. Worry: the little sister in dress-up clothes, believing if she’s only alert enough she can detoxify the snake
V. I want no Eden without my mother and sister in it
A. If my mother and sister live outside the fence
1. I live outside the fence
B. My mother climbing the ladder and pulling rotten leaves out of the eaves
C. My sister using her index finger like a hook to pull the blood clots out of the mouths of the dead
1. or the impacted turds from the asses of the demented and insane
D. If I can welcome them in
1. I will find a way to welcome them in
VI. Like a dog in winter, those inside the gates want out, and those outside the gates want in
A. Did I tell you about my niece, who moved to Orlando to get away from the soybean fields
1. she got a job taking tickets at Disney World
2. her husband, a pipefitter at SeaWorld
a. “these days,” he said, “it’s all about serving the dolphins, the dolphins don’t serve you”
3. in the dead of winter, they packed up and moved back home
a. jerked the girl out of school (she was finally understanding fractions)
b. unpacked the truck
i. trampoline
ii. saltwater aquarium
iii. the dog, Girly, etc.
c. and started planning a trip to Disney World
VII. The problem with Eden is that it is eternal
A. It’s like that Twilight Zone episode
1. no, not that one; the other one
2. the one with the train on a circular track
VIII. The problem with Eden is letting yourself have it
A. Even after you’ve wrecked it
1. it comes crawling toward you with its purple mouths
a. like an army of beaten children
2. like a ruined dog
a. it puts its head in your lap and gives you its stillness
3. it comes buzzing back
a. like a purple-throated bird with a hypodermic beak
i. obsessed with your sweetness

About the Author

Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss’s most recent collection, Four-Legged Girl, was published in 2015 by Graywolf Press. Seuss is Writer-in-Residence at Kalamazoo College.

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