Galatea

At first, she sat in the corner sulking.
There was still a powder of stone on her skin.
Her shoulder, soft as a cat’s,
turned hard rounded in the palm,
but I was used to that.

After all, wasn’t that the idea?
To find a melting point for marble,
to have the crest of her hip push back,
flutter of breath
from the small cave of her mouth.

I just wasn’t ready for the opposite:
my want making her soft,
her hate reversing the charm:
petrifaction of love.

After four days I prayed
some god would take her back.
She wasn’t eating.
She drew caricatures of me
on the studio floor with a stick, saying,

Can’t I go outside? What are you looking at?
Don’t you have any friends?
Then nasty, knowing my weakness:
Can’t you make me a mate —
someone good-looking, younger, sexier?

When she stopped moving
I would pause
in the doorway from the garden,
crunching an apple, a sculptor again,
remaking her with my eyes,
smaller like a child.

They said we had a son,
but what do those liars know.
I took out my chisel.
The boy rose smiling
in the gravel of his mother’s arms.

11 Irregular Stanzas on Trimming Toenails

The first nail flies off like a seed,
a dark germ inside,
and plants itself in the sleeping grass.
Come May, a full-grown toe,
luscious and greening,
lures grackles to the cottonwood.

The second is a fractured nursery rhyme,
a plump little piggy going to market,
disfigured by a fungus.
Even the wolf crosses the street
to avoid him.

About the third
the less said the better —
a disappointment to his family.

Disney wrote the fourth,
a scimitar from the Arabian Nights,
sharp as the thing
that sets it free.

Five, Dickensian,
a washerwoman,
proud and fat.

A lawyer raised number six.
Home schooled,
she argued a case
before the Supremes
regarding the rights of toes.

Seven was a sly serial toe murderer,
the cutest of the bunch.
Motel owners remembered him
smiling,
signing the check.

Eight ate leather,
loved one hundred and fifty dollar
running shoes.

Nein, the philosopher,
famously said, “After all,
what is a toenail?”

The tenth nail,
from the big right toe,
a cruel flagship,
shoots a sliver across the lake,
the ice just off,
the geese lazy on rails
like amusement park rides.

Remember the girl who dragged herself
from the sea (who can forget her),
where the old god’s sperm roiled the water?
They say the lunatic seers of Babylon
warned us about her sister:
you, Alea,
the second apocalypse of love.