What is the basic primal metaphor?

Is it the spiraling nautilus,
empty with yearning,
beneath my solar plexus?

Is it the fertile serpent
that hisses up from my belly’s shell,
releasing its coiled umbilicus,
tempting and rattling my humanity?

Is it fishing with grandpa
out on the lapping waters of Lake Vermilion,
early, before the stars fade, and the edges
of the sky are barely beginning to blue?

Madam in Eden I’m Adam.
Offering up apples and palindromes.
Opening Pandora’s box.
Wallowing in temptation.
Quivering in its wake.
Slithering sustenance.
I sigh,
then curl inside that spiraling nautilus,
allowing its opalescent walls
to generate my breath
and soothe my solar plexus
while grandpa pulls a long worm
from the apple and threads it on my hook
then sends it bobbing through the waters
of my mostly settled soul.

Brenda Warren 2012

Process Notes:
A big thank you to fellow poet Marianne who provided this link to Watermark: a poet’s notebook yesterday, from which I took the title prompt. The sentence, “Madam in Eden, I’m Adam,” reads the same backwards as frontwards. It is the first palindrome I learned, and it seems to fit. My grandpa’s arrival in this piece brings me great joy. It is day 16 of NaPoWriMo. It astounds me that my river still flows.

Your work and ideas feed my own. Thank you.

11 thoughts on “What is the basic primal metaphor?

  1. I’m visiting late tonight here, Brenda, and just want to add my appreciation/ admiration for the writing of this poem! With its complexity, it hardly seems like a NaPo poem!


  2. Brenda, this is amazing. It’s thesis – thesis – thesis – then synthesis. That last stanza is just astounding. I was smiling as I was reading it – I liked it so much.



  3. nautilus, umbilicus..your reimagining of Eden in this poetic fruit. Well done and challenging. But as metaphor, it’s too archetypal, and as a reader I’m most taken by the fishing trip imagery with grandpa, Brenda. Earlier this afternoon, my son asked me, what do you call a word that is spelled the same backward and forward, and I couldn’t remember. And now, you’ve come up with the answer. Is this magic or what?


    • I’m going with magic…yup, there’s magic happening here. 🙂 Thanks Irene. I agree with your assessment of the metaphors in my poem. Grandpa is my favorite, too. Although, it’s all one big primordial soup.


  4. Gorgeous writing, Brenda!!!! I am in awe of this one. You took a rather difficult prompt and turned it into a spectacular poem. I remember doing palindromes with my kids.
    “Bobbing through the waters of my mostly settled soul” is breath-taking.
    of my mostly settled soul.


    • Thank you, Marianne. I appreciate your “awe.” Thanks for that. My day is about to be filled with the ranks of wild middle schoolers. I’ll stop and visit your place at lunch. 🙂


      • Yes, it is Lake Vermillion. It was my favorite place in all the world. My great grandfather built a cabin on the lake when he was 20 years old. Most of my childhood summers were spent there. I love those memories.


    • Thanks for your insight, Viv. I thought similar things about the contrast, but all three images seem to fit my estimation of “primal metaphor.” So I left it in…this might be a piece that I come back to when it’s time to sort through all these NaPo pieces, penned in haste. 😉


share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s