Lessons from the Statuary

The closer to the torso, the better.
Endangered: fingers in a point,

nosetips, every blooded sword,
the knife’s ricasso, the cupid’s bow of lips,

a Roman nose, the dog’s upturned gaze,
the placid expression, the fierce.

Toes hidden beneath sandals fare better:
Every mother knows this.

Somewhere, a breeze so strong
it stirs the stone robe’s folds.

Imperial porphyry: Understand
that of the most beautiful things, there is less.

Even the music of the lyre broken away.
Don’t touch goes without saying.

The gaze of the guard is never returned.
Out in the courtyard, another wedding ends.

A boy shies from a hand to the shoulder
but will pose by the lion mauling the horse.

Once there were angel wings,
a baby held aloft. If halos, what halos.

A statue may give up a head so the rest survives.
Even the satyrs must have a rest.

Copyright © 2018 Karen Skolfield. This poem originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Summer 2018. Used with permission of the author.