Amy Gerstler

Earth, Temple, Gods
January 17, 2021 Gerstler Amy

Earth, Temple, Gods

A woman’s feet, in lace-up sandals made of stone.
Her centuries old long stone toes. How can
toes be so eloquent, evoking love and something
akin to pity? Snaking down her back, between
her shoulder blades, a long-looped braid,
entwined with ribbons and flowers, also carved
marble. The braid’s woven stone patience.
A mineral smell. Sounds of dripping. Glimpses
of waiting fates, of young, vulnerable mankind,
staring from time-whitened statues’ eyes.
The centuries slippery as spilled milk during
coronavirus confinement. We’re all monks now
one monk joked in a Catholic newsletter I glanced
at online. Maybe time melts when one’s confined
to quarters, staring at photos of beautiful ruins,
statues sans noses, some with only half a face, each
looking as though, despite losses and griefs, she
would speak. And me so restless and unnerved today,
dying to hear what these long-gone women could say,
looking for any place to rest my frightened eyes.

Amy Gerstler’s book of poem Index of Women will be published by Penguin Random House in April. Her previous books of poetry include Dearest Creature, Ghost Girl, Medicine, and Crown of Weeds. Her book of poems Bitter Angel received a National Book Critics’ Circle Award in 1991. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. These include The New Yorker, Poetry, Paris ReviewAmerican Poetry Review, several volumes of Best American Poetry, and The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry. She teaches at University of California at Irvine.