THEORY OF THE MAMMALIAN FIGURE
It has four legs, a long tongue, a snout.
Its sounds are made of mirrors that collect
into words, measurements, questions,
growls—its breathing difficult and cawing.
Its body tastes of salt, a book of rust,
when we meet it in its very own labyrinth,
smoking socket of wheatfield stubble.
There drought quickens a straddle
of nightmare as a chink of light separates
myth from the reality of a girl on a bed—
the art of seeing! how to walk alone across
this country? dark animal eyes don’t choose.
If sex is what it wants, it wants, darkness
coming into its own, utter simplicity of lust.
Its steady will to be its very own self,
to project its own vision onto us, onto
the flat edge before the dropoff.
MICHELANGELO'S LAST PIETA, UNFINISHED
She doesn't cradle her son in her lap
but, standing, grasps him under his limp arms
while he almost slips from her grasp,
his long feet starting to buckle under, forearms
limp, his lower torso hidden by folds of a shroud,
she in her flowing robe and shawl--
two elongated marble forms a half millennium
old, new, she still mourning, this one detail
the sculptor hasn't changed his mind
about, not like the extra arm, perhaps his, with elbow
crooked and biceps not quite formed (never
to be now) but chiseled off near the shoulder,
while the two nod their heads bowed against
each other, eyes downcast and every line
of them flowing toward earth
in the pure white of their stone, unpolished,
on their pedestal in their own room
of the museum, she alone in her grieving,
he alone in his martyrdom, observed by
us, a line of tourists inching through
the Sforza Castle above the drained moats.
Mary Crow has published three chapbooks of poetry and three full-length books plus five volumes of poetry translation. Her awards include poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Colorado Council on the Arts as well as three Fulbrights. For 14 years she served as Poet Laureate of Colorado. She is retired from the faculty of Colorado State University's creative writing faculty.