Two poems – Matthew Harrison

Matthew Harrison

Michelangelo and His David

Front foot poised, back hip braced, taut sinews strung,
Yet balanced he stands, and he stands alone;
Sling carelessly over one shoulder slung,
The fingers that dandle the deadly stone
Flaccid. The sculptor’s tender blade caressed
The muscled flanks, roused hair in Grecian swirls
Above the brow, and traced the youthful breast
In curving lines to where answering curls
Nestle. Consummate vision of manhood!
As if he stepped from pure white marble down
Onto the trembling earth – and, living, would
Transcend the flesh. And yet in David’s frown –
Terrible, a man quenched. With that reprise,
Youth and artist together agonise.


The Statue

At first she joked about her errors,
Like the time she dialled a friend
With the remote, realised it, and laughed;
Then as self-awareness faded
She would talk without anyone
Understanding what she meant,
But at least wanting to mean something;
Later she wanted to speak,
Remembered the words, but could not;
And later still when words were forgotten
She yet had her voice
And could vent her frustration
With inarticulate cries.
Now, most recently, passive,
Sitting upright in a chair, unmoving,
Her hands in the two hands,
And meeting the gaze,
Of my daughter.

A statue fallen from its pedestal
Into a stream and tumbled
Over sand and pebbles
Has its intricately-carved features
Knocked and worn and scoured away
Until, rounded and unrecognisable,
Smooth and beautiful,
It is yet
What it always was.

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