Poetry Porch: Poetry


by Paula Bonnell

This marble belongs to France.
And now I, too, have been entrusted
with some of it. At last they believe
that I can draw from within it
something that I can see,
and believe also that if I can withdraw it
they will want it. A few,
at least, if not all of Paris.
Geffroy, Mirbeau tell me
that all of France
will someday recognize
my work as art.

I donít know. I live for
the next form I will make,
but can never be sure of
what I am making until
I model it, then question
it, and keep on changing it
until I reach a stage
when I can see no more
to do to make it
become itself.
Yes, I have done certain things
and I begin to see certain others
that I might do. But I never know.
I search, I hope, I watch,
I draw. I wait.
I am sure, in fact,
that I claim nothing
except my hope
that I may continue to see.

I am a silent man.
Writing and speaking confuse me;
my natural means are clay and pencil.
The body is eloquent, the hands,
the face Ė and as the models move
in my studio I try to take in
their gestures, arresting,
so that when I take up the pencil
or lay my hands on the clay
their motion flows through
my hands.

The marble is France.
Whether the moving body I see
will move her stoniness
to the poetry of the body
today seems doubtful. It will
never be molten, never touch
the forms I grasped nor the hollows
that held them. To reach
France, her pitiless eye,
I must be translated
by pointing, by the hands of others.

More gladly do I submit
to the human form than
to the marble, but to body forth
all that claims me
I must. I will submit
to the stone.

Note: This poem was inspired by Rodin: The Shape of Genius by Ruth Butler (Yale 1993).
Copyright © 2017 by Paula Bonnell.