Without my stone companions
I'd be madder than my husband.
Our son's mortal pining left scars
sharp as flints in a glacier's womb.
My body traces a daughter's loss, too
like dark veins in marble.
Yet this gallery of sculpted ghosts
turned purgatory into hibernation.
Pacing like a snow queen
among Paulina's collected treasures
I pause in wonder at peerless Hera
flaunting her branch of immortality.
I often finger Victory's pleated robe
ruffled feathers wind-borne by freedom
jealous of her headless state –
no thoughts to disturb her mind.
Even in sleep, I see the caryatid's
slow smile framed by lengthy plaits
certain as Hercules
of bearing her burden forever.
I touch Venus's cool thigh to know
this hand is warm, compare our breasts
my unwilling breath barely perceptible
and I'd swear it's she that moves.
Now Paulina says my daughter breathes
in her penitent father's embrace,
so these years of aesthetic nurture
become a rehearsal for my rebirth.
Fearing our theatrical coup
be deemed witchcraft
we agree music will conjure magic
and serve as my cue to move.
Dim the lights, Paulina
the stone stands ready to speak.
to Adjudicators Report