In A Breeze Of Dates And Olives, 4000 Years BC
By Lyn Lifshin

                                                The first poet we know to have signed her name to what
                                                she wrote, she Lived 2285-2250BCE. High priestess in the
                                                Sumerian city state of Ur. After her death Enheduanna
                                                continued to be remembered as an important
                                                figure, perhaps even attain semi-divine status

in the shadow of a
white glowing house,
a young woman moves
thru reeds and barley.
Her hair shimmers in
the hot light like
ripples on the Euphrates.
In the distance, the
soft sounds of a
stringed instrument.
Children singing to the
Oud. She is Enheduanna,
daughter of Sargon.
Sun turns her copper breasts
fire. How can she know
this man who brought her
berries in a clay dish
is not only the founder of
one of the first empires
in history, a reign that will
last long after his
daughter is no longer
stunned by the majesty’s
terror and is wild
to carve her heart’s
words, chisel stone with
her fierce passion, a
world grounded in
desire for gods and
goddesses, but is her father.
She feels braided to her life
with irresistible power
and ripeness. Birds no
one now living can
see dart thru brambles
but Enheduanna hardly
sees them, already
humming, burning
lost in the rifts of love,
carving her breath
and heartbeat into clay
tablet with a small knife
like a stylus that might
as well be part of her
body, seething and wild
to become the first writer
in recorded history to
sing her name to
what she wrote

While Everyone Else Is Still Sleeping
By Lyn Lifshin

Enheduanna braids her
long black braids. Behind
her eyes, temples grow
out of cosmic mist,
lift their necks to the sky.
Sometimes she longs
to be small enough
to play in her mother’s
quilts and weavings.
Sometimes she feels over-
whelmed by life’s mystery
and fear, its terror and
dread, it’s beauty and
desire. Think of her as a
torch singer, belting
out what scorches and
what can calm, her songs
carved into hard clay that
will dance, a wild jazz
scat. Her skin smells of
saffron and sun, the music
of the Euphrates in the
back ground, she scatters
her stories in the rushes.
Images flutter in and
out of the palace walls until,
like an ink tattoo, she
pierces the clay like skin
and tells the wild story

When She Pressed Her Web Shaped Reed Into Soft Clay

By Lyn Lifshin

it was as if the words
and symbols were
fingers, each shape
glowing with the
ambiguity poetry
demands. Her arms,
saffron perfumed, her
hair in a clasp of
reeds. Could she
have dreamt
her explosion of
words, layers on top
of layers, the bottom
images showing thru
like pentimento
in art where
images painted
over another one
eventually seep
thru, would, 500 years
later stun and
astonish, intense as
the scarlet bird in the
date tree. In her own
spell, Enheduanna
braided her life with
the goddess Innana. She
signed her own
name to what could
have been a torch
burning, the first poet
to do so, as if she
had a choice

Lyn Lifshin has published widely, including three books from Black Sparrow Press, Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me, and the three anthologies she’s edited of women’s writing, including Tangled Vines from Beach Press and later from HBJ. Her recent books include All the Poets and Ballroom.