Encounter at Musée Rodin


It wasn’t until after we
toured the sculpture garden,
the maze of towering topiaries,
the top of the Eiffel beyond them—
after we circled The Thinker,
surveyed his bronze, muscular body
bound to a marble block—
past the Gates of Hell, the scenes
of the damned reaching like hands
into the sunlight, sirens sounding—
after my mother and I eyed nearly all
the burnished bodies, two full floors
of them, naked, named after Greek gods,
some headless, baring broken genitals—
when she caught me, lingering on
a single sculpture, the one poised
on a pedestal before an open
and arched window, torso turned upward
like a gymnast in a split jump,
hips cocked at the sockets, labia
displayed, an impossible posture—
when we read the title card together, Iris,
Messenger of the Gods (known also as Study of
a Woman with Legs Apart) that we both
knew what news she carried.

Carling McManus