The Cnidos Venus
The goddess herself came to see the statue,
asked “Where did Praxiteles see me naked?”
Scabbed with ejaculate, the first
monumental representation of woman,
the first woman marble, the first Venus,
is now lost. The men who adored
and jacked off to her are dead.
She, assertive stone, all that
ivory Galatea was not: implaccable.
Oh, replications, oh pudica, the hands
clutching your clefts were wrenched there.
Blame men, blame me, but reach
inward now and rip yourselves open.
17th Century Ivory Anatomical Model
Cool as a corpse to the touch, eyes low,
she lies on a velvet-lined base, pocket-sized
as a tattered book of hours, as an ipod
whose click-wheel cracked open. Drop her
and she’ll ping on glass, a clutter of pings
as her torso tips and spills tight-wound
intestines, placenta, fetus, each a stutter.
Don’t ask her to reassure you. You know
better than she how your body bulges,
how your eyes warp and water, your fingers
swell. Sick all the time, you. She already
dead, she can show only where a child fits.
Even a C-section won’t expose you
the way she lifts away; she knows this
and her anemic arm swivels
from her heart to cover her face.
The other hand covers her V, formed
where stiff open legs meet. Gentlemen could
lift that hand, but their curiosity
was for her polished, toy-like exposure.
You’ll find her tucked beyond long rooms
of taxidermied beasts. She waits,
as if in sleep, or halfway there,
cool wax upon a platform draped
in sheets. Her head tilts back. Her hair
tangles itself, eager to cover
her nakedness. She holds a braid
above her right subclavian artery
cradling her lung’s superior lobe.
The holding hand is limp, demure.
as are her knees brushing close.
If you could hold your eyes to hers,
ignore a heart’s missing beats,
despite the gaping autopsical pond
from which emerge such private bodies
that she in life had never known:
the mammoth slug that fights a net
of nerves tied to her core, the glossed
spleen, a kidney, and a bulb with its
two pursed flowers, almost lost.
If you could hold her eyes, and breathe,
would you pinch the edges of her breasts,
gather the skin like a coroner’s sheet
and fold it back across her chest?
Burned Notes on Venus
Chop her body,
to a stray kitten,
choke with wax
what was living.
She smells of must-
be, of once-was,
through her a wick
we could ignite,
it’d soften her.
She glow she
would slide long
her own flesh,
lips lead chin
crest all bitter