Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Archaic Face

It's been all day, heat, talk, family, rattling chains, a cage. You don't have a single wrinkle, the aesthetician said, the light hot, nothing to hide. Her fingers fluttered over, tracing my face, leaving thin, cool tracks. The word glisten makes me shiver. For in it is no place that doesn't see you, she might have said, or I said, or I remembered.

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We never knew his stupendous head
in which the eye-apples ripened. But
his torso still glows, like a lamp,
in which his gaze, screwed back to low,

holds steady and gleams. Otherwise the curve
of his chest couldn't dazzle you, nor a smile
run through the slight twist of the loins
toward the center that held procreation.

Otherwise this stone would stand mutilated and too short
below the translucent fall-off of the shoulders,
and wouldn't shimmer like a predator's fur;

nor shine out past all its edges
like a star; for in it is no place
that doesn't see you. You must change your life.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
translated by Galway Kinnell

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