News & Politics

Traveling Light

In poet Linda Pastan’s work, her home in Potomac is a stone’s throw from the Garden of Eden. Pastan takes Eve, the first woman of the Bible, as her perennial muse and writes about the pleasures (bread crumbs, birdsong) and frustrations (burglary, leaf blight, turbulent plane rides) inherent to life in a fallen world that continues to bear the residue of paradise, if only in flashes.

The poems in Traveling Light, some of which first appeared in the New Yorker and the Paris Review, blend Pastan’s elegiac style with refreshing dashes of self-deprecating humor. In “Tannenbaum,” a pitch-perfect post-holidays poem, Pastan—who has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award—deliberates how to evict a family of wrens, “so domestic in a fifties kind of way,” from the Christmas tree set out on the deck for disposal the day after New Year’s. She writes: “Meanwhile the tree just sits there / next to the sculptures of Adam and Eve / the wrought iron goat, the ceramic turtle. / And if our deck becomes a makeshift Eden / must one of us impersonate the serpent?”

Linda Pastan

W.W. Norton & Company


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