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Poetry #25
(published February 1, 2001)
As the Body Emerged from the Sculptor's Cage
by Cara Jeanne Spindler

Regretful, each breast fell like a raindrop
as the model relaxed each taut muscle
under the distraction of the marble body emerging
from the sculptorís tools.
This is why classical Artemises and Michelangeloís sibyls look strange:
they used men and strung on sandbags.

"The breast is not a muscle," he lectured.
"It is more like a bag of water, floating on the ribcage."

The students nodded.

Wrote down, water.

In the long halls of the Vatican the night is filled with moans
and sobs of an agony beyond words,
as the marble arms strain against their own rocky skin
to clasp the fig leaf, forever trapped by that initial reaction
to pain. In the basement:
bins of neatly labeled penises, crying to be rejoined.

The statues glare angrily, emptily
at the tourists sweating on down the hall.

Smoke billows from the offices.

"On to the next matter of business, restoring the sculptures . . . "

And in the museum the crowd stares as the couple,
brass-innards coated to dun, spears in hand,
springs to attack the screaming schoolchildren.
Gift of some Chicago philanthropist,
they've guarded the entrance to the Primitive Peoples for decades
and the gleaming plan of escape was hatched by their own captors:

"Please Donít Touch the Statues" and so we do,
by the oil of our hands, the curve of a nipple, the finger, lips,

tracing the pattern set before us

This poem is part of a collection that won a 1999 Jules and Avery Hopwood Award for poetry.

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