Eve Heads Back

Kelsay Books, 2020

Joanne Leva’s second book, Eve Heads Back, continues the delightful reimagining of the biblical Eve she began in her first book, Eve Would Know. Leva refreshingly mixes solemn meditations on the lives of women with welcome levity and a striking sense of consequence. Leva’s Eve is at once the Eve of the Old Testament and a woman striving to live the life she wants in contemporary America. This is an Eve who “feels / ephemeral // when she’s / weeding // the garden,” receives spam e-mail from The Good Samaritan and sends her own morning-after apology note to God for “wrecking the last half-hour.” This is an Eve who never stops working hopefully day to day even as she remains dramatically and inescapably weighed by memories of the Garden she shared with Adam and what happened there. This Eve is “up to her neck / in curses,” hopes for a better life, balancing the demands of life as a mother, wife, aspiring professional, “repeating / the same mistake,” admitting that “Being comfortable / is not something that comes / naturally to her.” This sad, poignant, timely, and timeless collection is a pleasure.
—Ernest Hilbert, author of Last One Out

By turns, sexy, daring, and self-questioning, Joanne Leva’s Eve indeed heads back and shares with us the transit of her life from the Garden to motherhood to her life post-Adam. The older Eve may sense “her Goddess departing,” but, always resilient, she forges ahead. An associative brilliance informs these fast-paced verses that capture Eve’s sauciness, her pain, and duty to bear witness to her life. These poems are compelling and profound, and, above all, they tell this Eve’s story with compassion.
—Lynn Levin, author of The Minor Virtues

How could you not want to read a book that begins “God walks into a bar / and says, Let there be light! / Eve holds her Zippo / lighter in the air.” In Joanne Leva’s Eve Heads Back, Adam’s wife gets to continue telling the story she began in Leva’s first book, and she does so with wit and courage; the recognition of the darkness in our lives but also the honoring of the light. We carry that light with us, just as Eve carries her Zippo at the ready. Open this book. There is so much light inside.
—Christopher Bursk, author of The Improbable Swervings of Atoms


  • God Walks into a Bar

    God walks into a bar
    and says, Let there be light!
    Eve holds her Zippo
    lighter in the air
    in flickering tribute.
    She pierces the darkness.

  • Dear Lord

    I feel dreadful about ruining your enchanted world yesterday by
    eating a quince from the Tree.

    You certainly did everything you could to prevent the situation,
    and I apologize most humbly for ignoring good taste and common
    sense in pursuing a “discussion” that was completely

    I talked to Adam first thing this morning and attempted to mend
    my fences there, but I feel a great deal worse about what I did to
    you. The first two hours were delightful.

    I hope you will someday be able to forgive me for wrecking the
    last half-hour.


  • On Pruning Fruit Trees

    Make all wounds clean,
    all cuts deep
    and close to the bone.

    Never leave a stub
    when heading back.
    Cut above

    a healthy bud
    in the desired direction.

    Remove overbearing branches
    and undercut
    until the saw binds,

    then press down
    until you hear
    it snap.