after Antonio Canova’s sculpture (1787)
From a certain vantage point they could be lovers—the man with his arms encircling my mother, and both of them gone marble. He has woken her with the sound of broken wings. Her blanket is polished rock, cold and weighted to the bed. From this angle the knife is hidden, although it’s there, the way an arrow is always shooting through this story, desire a dart that finds the tender spot. Bodies make a space for gods to intervene. Tonight if there are souls like butterflies, then they have stilled. If beauty could be bolted in a box, if a deity could say, Don’t open this, then my mother might stay asleep forever, unbothered by the monument of those hands.
Jehanne Dubrow is the author of four poetry collections, including most recently Red Army Red and Stateside (Northwestern University Press, 2012 and 2010). Her work has appeared in The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. She is director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and assistant professor in creative writing at Washington College, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. (updated 12/2012)