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Elaine Fowler Palencia

Elaine Fowler Palencia, Champaign IL, is the author of four poetry chapbooks. Her latest chapbook is How to Prepare Escargots (Main Street Rag Press, 2020). Her poetry has recently appeared in I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Kentucky Monthly, and Rattle. In 2021, Mercer University Press published her nonfiction account of her great-grandfather, “On Rising Ground”: The Life and Civil War Letters of John M. Douthit, 52nd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. She is the book review editor of Pegasus, journal of the Kentucky State Poetry Society.

Fleeing Eden

A long trip for short legs
we made through town and
into the soft arms of the country
my father in overalls
pushing the wheelbarrow
I dancing beside him
in high summer
down a dirt road
past an old woman sitting
on an older porch
into deep trees
beside a dark lake
and around the lake
to the head of a hollow
where in a clearing
the ground still bore
the outline of a homestead
and a gnarled apple tree
stood by limestone steps
that ended in air.
Under the tree
lay a headless doll
with a hole for a navel.
We ate red apples
heady as hard cider
and my father set a sieve over the barrow
shoveled on hen house soil
shook the sieve to make fine dirt
for our vegetable garden
until with a shout
eyes rolling like a horse gone loco
he pulled me away from where
the loam seethed with snakes
wriggling from dead pearls.
Hindbrains in recoil
we hastened away, but not before
I realized my father would die.
Thus I fell into dualism,
as one does in Eden.


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