Vanessa Stauffer

The Age of Bronze

            The Bronze Age, thought to have occurred between 3500 and 1000 BC,
                  saw the development of copper alloys, which could be used to produce
                  more efficient weapons of destruction, as well as to create objects of
                  aesthetic pleasure.
                                    —Jane Mayo Roos, Auguste Rodin 

The crowd surges & parts, funneled
            in a stream across the bridge, one voice
                        made up of many: peal of a horn, fragmented
shout, gestures & sounds sharing the accent
            meaning now. From half a block away
I hear the alto lift like a leaf
            over the engines, swept on the heat
                        Market breathes above the river.
Each sound spills into the next
            as the Schuylkill swells its banks, fat & fast
with the first spring rain. The song draws me in
            like a tether, slender wand swaying
                        on a prayer of wind: “Willow Weep
For Me.” All afternoon I watched
            sun change the shape of the sculpture
sentineled over the garden: serrated
            ridge of the ribcage, soft hollow
                        under the jaw, bright teardrop welled
above the knee, the weighted muscle
            round & gleaming. The brackish patina
shifted as hours dragged shadow
            across him, sun compressed in the gathering
                        dark, bronze-cast & solid, his planted foot
counterweight to the one lifting:
            the body divided. I wanted to see
in his eyes fallen shut, contrapposto
            of shoulder & hip, anything but myself
                        standing motionless, riven by the choice
to step forward or back, to open
            the lungs with a deep-drawn breath
or contract, muscle tightened to lift
            the fist, empty, still holding the memory of
                        a spear. What moment is this? Everywhere
the city is weeping, awash with blossoms:
            white storm from the pear & the dogwood,
pink torrent of the cherry bowing,
            weighted with blooms. I want to lie down
                        in the stars the petals scatter
atop these cobbled streets—how is it
            I am still alive, born as I am into a people
so torn by beauty, so hopeless
            in love each spring they turn their sorrow
                        against themselves, their fear to blind rage,
the softness of their palms
            hidden in fists? I’m searching my pockets
for coins, some way to evade
            the horn player’s gaze, some way
                        to connect without risking his eyes
looking in mine when I see the sign
            propped in his case: Unconditional
truth requires courage. The weight
            of my limbs. He’s leaning into his song
                        like a reed, his breath a song
so keening & sweet, on the banks
            I make a prayer of the willow:
let it cover over me.

Vanessa Stauffer holds MFA and PhD degrees from the University of Houston. She is the author of a chapbook, Cosmology (dancing girl press & studio), and her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Cincinnati Review, The Puritan, and West Branch. She teaches creative writing and literature at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

By |2018-12-13T20:03:01+00:00December 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments
%d bloggers like this: