Jan/Feb 2020 Poetry Special Feature

The Fallen Caryatids

by Jennifer Finstrom

Borrowed image

The Fallen Caryatids

The Caryatid is no more the erect figure that bears lightly or unyieldingly the heaviness of the marble.
      —Rainer Maria Rilke on Auguste Rodin, 1919

Your only wish when the plane lands
at the John Glenn International Airport
is to get to the Columbus Museum of Art
and be standing once more in front of
Artemisia Gentileschi's Bathsheba in Gallery 10.
And you go immediately with your luggage,
find her where you saw her last, taking up
most of the gallery wall: Bathsheba
in the orbit of her ladies, accepting the gift
of a necklace with seeming trepidation;
David, an ominous moon on the palace balcony
in the painting's upper left; both man and gift
leading to news of her husband's coming
death. And while this is what you needed
after a man you've been seeing throughout
the fall has left you more confused each
time you meet, last night no exception,
you need to get to your conference, will walk
there soon in an October wind, heading west
on Broad to the Hyatt, dragging your luggage
behind you. But first you visit a temporary
exhibit of Rodin's sculptures and pace slow
circles around both Fallen Caryatids, the one
with the urn and the one with the stone,
both collapsed to their knees. It seems so long
since you left Chicago in darkness and it isn't
even noon, but you don't see those heavy figures
as fallen. You see them gathering their strength.


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