The Crouching Venus

Poem by Meredith Bergmann

The history of art is full of pain:
sometimes within the work, sometimes inflicted
on the body of the work itself
by acts of god or vandals, acid rain,
or fashion (later versions have rejected
seven of her belly’s folds and creases,
smoothed her girth, sucked out her attribute
as goddess of inevitable birth
and left her slim, alone). Here, missing pieces
are not missed: coy arms that convolute,
her curly head, may sit upon a shelf.
But on her back, as if to budge the earth,
a tiny hand is still attached. I’m wild
with sudden grief. I have to find that child.

Roman copy after an original of the third century B.C. Marble, height 96 cm, The Louvre

Roman copy after an original of the third century B.C. Marble, height 96 cm, The Louvre