How Embers and Apples Are a Recipe for Disaster

by Allie Marini

This is how I came to be a footnote in my own story:

Long before Eve
and her indiscretion with the apple, there was me.
Back then, wolves were gods and lived in the clouds,
like raptors. They were the keepers of the flame.

I didn’t steal fire—the Wolf promised it to me.
I just knew he was lying.
Men are so predictable. Especially gods.
Even as he panted down against my back and nipped at my ear
I knew he planned to eat me
after he spilled his seed.

So I waited until he slept, and took
less than he’d promised—just three small coals—hidden in my cunt.
The one place I knew he’d never bother to look
having already taken what he wanted.

No more gagging down rotten meat;
no more picking strings of tendon from my teeth.
And all that kindling we gathered,
bundles of branches and heaps of dry leaves,
just begging to burn.

But here’s where I paid the price.

I gathered my husbands together, to show them
the bounty I’d brought home to share.
Trusting them was my fatal flaw. So predictable.

Fire didn’t quiet their bellies. It only made them hungrier—
for ideas, for language, for words to describe their dinner.
Raw and cooked were sparks unleashing a wildfire.

While I busied myself learning fire and its uses,
how liver shrinks,
how a boars head should simmer slow in a clay vessel,
how fish cooks quicker than it takes for a sapling skewer to scorch,
how stuffed sweetbreads need nothing more than a cover of hot ash,
how bacon crisps over a bed of hot stones,
how even blood can be whisked into a pudding,
that was when the Wolf got even with me for what I’d taken.

Eve should have paid attention, learned from my mistake.

The kitchen and the birthing room are where all who follow us pay penance.
Fire and apples fuel insatiable hungers in men—so predictable!—for religion,
for language, for politics, for metal and tools and bricks.
An apple and three hot coals were all it took
to hand them the means of writing history.

These poems are dedicated to the memory of Dr. Glenn R. Cuomo, Professor of German Studies 1992-2017, New College of Florida, with whom the translator first began work on this project in 1997. Fishily on love & poetry, indeed. 

Allie Marini is a cross-genre Southern writer. In addition to her work on the page, Allie was a 2017 Oakland Poetry Slam team member & writes poetry, fiction, essays, performing in the Bay Area, where as a native Floridian, she is always cold. Find her online.

Günter Grass (1927-2015) was a German poet, novelist, playwright, sculptor, and printmaker who, with his first novel The Tin Drum (1959) became the literary spokesman for the German generation that grew up in the Nazi era and survived the war. In 1999 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. “Meat” is from his groundbreaking 1977 novel The Flounder, which contains a hidden manuscript of poetry in the text that has not been translated into English since its debut translation by Ralph Manheim.