From Hanami: On Viewing “The Eternal Idol” by Rodin

This poem was one of the first I wrote when I moved to the East Coast. Being new to the area, I didn’t have a lot to do on a lot of afternoons. My first few months were spent looking for a job and a place to live. The former was harder than the latter. I had some money saved from when I was in Japan, and I was living off of that. I also did some temp jobs. But I was thousands of miles from my family and friends in one direction and thousands of miles away from my then-girlfriend in the other. So being alone and broke, I spent a good amount of time going to museums when they were free. One that wasn’t too far from my apartment was free on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings. In one room, there was a small marble of “The Eternal Idol” which I enjoyed.

This poem was the result of sitting there for a long time over those weeks and months studying the sculpture. I now have a book of Rodin’s works where this is the cover. I wrote it as a meditation on unequal love—someone loves the other more. Love out of balance can be a seductive and dangerous thing. It’s damaging. It’s common. I think a lot of us experience it from both sides during the course of our lives. How we handle it says a lot about us. We often think we handle it better than we do. The power of being the one who is loved more is a terrible kind of power and something I was meditating on.

The poem itself grew and shrank a lot during the writing process. I did finish quickly, but then again, I had time on my hands waiting for job offers to come it and travelling by public transportation from one interview to another. It’s a poem that I’m proud of and at the same time reshaped how I wrote poems in the future.

On Viewing “The Eternal Idol” by Rodin

Is her indifference
carelessly planned,
or is she so confident
that his kiss will always be there,
upon her stomach,
that she feels no fear?

If she is heavy
with her indifference,
more concerned with her foot
than the press of his lips,
then love must be
hard. It must be heavy.
Love must dig into the knees
like the rough marble
they were pulled from,
that pushes against his legs.
His body twists.
The shoulders bend,
stretching the powerful
long muscles under
love’s weight.

But isn’t this
what he always wanted:
her laid out before him,
there to worship,
there to praise,
there to ignore him
night after day?
His hands forever
behind his back.
Her hands never
in his hair in
casual approval,
but playing with her toes.

Hanami was published in 2015 by Aldrich Press by Kelsay Books. You can find Hanami at Amazon.com.

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