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.

Copyright © 2001 by Raymond Luczak. All rights reserved.