Self-Portrait as Lilith

some days        you seem
so disappointed, love   but you knew 

what it was.
i am your dread wife. 

you will not throw me out 
of eden            i walk myself to the door. 

there is no snake          i plant the tree. 

i pluck the apple       i bite.
the pomegranate          the passion fruit

whatever the fuck. 
i am feast unto myself.  

in this wilderness         the feral things name me. 

& i was raised to one day wash 
my husband’s feet at night.

of course i molted        made myself a woman 
who unmakes home. 

refused to be whittled to a fine point              
but you like me piercing.

beloved                        i will not 
only writhe when coming. 

my vow: break through this shell         fully impossible.
your vow: lap every slick of the yolk. 


Copyright © 2023 by Elizabeth Acevedo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 5, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem, like many of my poems, is interested in complicating and subverting what we think we know about biblical, mythical, and/or folkloric figures. It is theorized that Lilith, Adam’s first wife, was banished from Eden for being disobedient to her husband. Rendered in the Bible as a ‘she-demon,’ little is written about Lilith’s creation and banishment, but she loomed large in my imagination, especially in my first year of marriage. What would it mean to be that kind of woman? What would it mean to love her? To cherish her as your spouse?”
—Elizabeth Acevedo