This is the actual statue that inspired this poem. Note that her pedestal is different now.
Like most of the pictures I took that weekend of May 6, 1996, I had to deal with the oddness of snow still melting amidst warm weather.
- Autumn a gathering of the brittleness to come,
- muck leaves slapped the globe under her feet.
- Rakes clawed at her base: Paint chips became leaves.
- Weeds threatened in gusts to pass on their seeds
- to gardens like ours. She listened to us playing in the house,
- with 45s on the Panasonic and games off the shelves.
- In winter she stood valiantly alone,
- burdened with layers of snow clinging to her shoulders.
- On bright January mornings from the bathroom window,
- I could not pinpoint her--everything an unbroken white--
- until I found her shadow of Lazarus stricken,
- leaving no impression on the blank-faced scene.
- Late spring rains streaked more at her blues and whites
- until the true color of her plaster moldings showed.
- Her pedestal did not tilt under angry sleets,
- nor did she budge from the fear of slipping.
- The hash-brown grasses beckoned her broken fingertips,
- split infinitesimal cracks in the frozen shell of the earth.
- But not once did she fall of her own accord.
- Once a garden sale item, she stood tall as an altar,
- her manicured toes perched upon a globe
- precariously balanced on an X pedestal.
- Her arms hung low, her fragile palms
- open and steady ain her corner of the backyard.
- Her veil, drawn about her body, revealed
- scars of chipped plaster, now
- a baby blue fading onto its core.
- She was encircled with a scapular of bird droppings.
- She faced the orange sun sinking west,
- casting long shadows on the next dawn.
- Come summer I could no longer avoid her tranquillity:
- Grass blades waved with dandelion whiskers, then suddenly flayed
- by wind-borne whips; it seemed always the time to mow them down.
- The dim garage could not contain the smell of poured gas
- in the tiny tank. I rubbed lotion on my palms
- so the vibrations of the mower would not dry and numb them.
- Back and forth on the lawn: A shag carpet unrolled into a neat blanket,
- its subtle curves exposing a pleasant revelation between sun and shade.
- I plowed toward the statue: Round her base I left only tufts.
- Then I bent over to hug her--she did not recoil--and almost dropped her.
- My arms spasmodic from her weight, I looked at her placid face
- as she lay there. Had I missed a cry of admonition, pain?
- I looked around. The sky's azure had not changed.
- I heaved her pedestal away to find in the grass a noodle-white X;
- mowing over it, I felt good to see the tufts disappear.
- With her pedestal returned to its place, I bore up the statue
- but I dropped again: much too heavy even to try.
- I left her there, her eyes still trusting as a child's.
- A few hours later thunder clapped for rain. Standing at the toilet,
- I saw, remembered: She now lay ravaged by furies of the storm.
- A whiteness glowing against the dour greenery, her palms yielded
- nothing. But this hideousness of forgetting tortured me,
- a yearning for the same vision that sustained her so.
Copyright © 1996 by Raymond Luczak.
Taken from his book ST. MICHAEL'S FALL.