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Venus de Milo

The moon is a bleached marble the color of the Venus de Milo.

It gets so full of itself it breaks through whole centuries.

In this twenty-first one, I am called upstairs by my grandson Noah

to see the full moon over Paris. I tell him about the centuries

inside the marble, layers and streaks. How the sculptor studies

the grain. How even then it can break out of control. Jab the chisel

too far, it leaves a white bruise. Mystery is both cool and cruel,

I’m thinking, if you stay with it, as Noah and I do on the balcony

trying to take a picture that didn’t come out, that resisted us,

the way the Venus de Milo did in the afternoon, with her missing

arms, holding herself in, turning us back toward details. I explain

to Noah how rasps and rifflers are used for the final shaping. I explain

love and beauty in the language of work, what else is there to say?

why mention how much is free-fall—accident—the combination

of genes and skill that turn them to face each other like two mirrors

making their long corridor of escape? I just climb the 64 stairs

to the balcony, panting. I say it’s nothing. But then we step

into the dark and enter beauty, where there never was a foothold.

I might have told him that, but just then we were looking at the moon.

from No Need of SympathyFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Fleda Brown Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.