I know this woman
Who’s gathering herbs,
Pounding them between two stones,
And she knows me.

She knows my world of voices,
The things that whisper and hum there.
She knows what lies beneath the sigh of retreating waves,
Skin-warm waters vivid with bioluminescence.

I know her shape, the little Venus of stone and softness,
Moonfaced, moonskinned, moonbellied.
And I know she isn’t my mother, or a queen,
Or prehistoric porn.

She’s a stone, smeared with red clay and buried,
Unearthed to remind me that it’s all been one long forgetting,
And that knowing isn’t remembering.


During my second stay in New Orleans, I lived and partnered with a couple who were a painter and a sculptor. This poem was my only artistic collaboration with them; a copy hung beside a painting of the Willendorf Goddess, both of which were stationed above a true-scale sculpture of her that was meant to be handled. I had an image of the installation, but it was lost to a computer crash a couple of years ago.


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