Musing On Auguste and William – Sharon Berg

Rodin Sculpture - Berg

He looks like you, William – Rodin does –
with his high cheekbones, arched nose,
and almond-shaped eyes and red hair.
At least, he looks like an older version
of yourself as a young man, except
for the fact he was five foot three
as opposed to your six foot two.
He is reputed to have changed art,
modernizing the approach to sculpture.

You copied the approach earlier
artists took in their work, using similar
or the same mediums. There is one study
you created of me with a backyard casting,
wax figure buried in a milk carton
of wet gypsum powder and burned out
over a Coleman stove. The empty cavity
was refilled with melted lead you later
polished to silver, no longer recognizable as
your father’s fishing line sinkers.

Rodin died on this day of first snow,
November 17, 2021, some 104 years ago.
He froze to death after being refused coal
or shelter in the home he had delivered to
the people of France the previous year
as a museum for his sculptures, which were
– ironically – kept warm on the day
of his death, November 17, 1917.
And you, born December 11, 1953,
who harboured a fear of blood, died
ironically, on July 17th, 2008, bleeding
from your parasite-riddled liver, at age 54.

Still, that little torso you created, copied
my breasts and hips, the torso turning
at the waist, the arms and legs,
even the head gone absent for love
of the moment’s focus it represented.
You took that idea from Rodin, who
outraged the establishment, saying
body parts were as beautiful as
the whole, sculpting hands and limbs
that were rejected by museums
until the limit of our perceptions shifted.

Sharon BergSharon Berg is a Canadian author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She has published 3 full books of poetry (To a Young Horse, Borealis Press, 1979; The Body Labyrinth, Coach House Press, 1984; and Stars in the Junkyard, Cyberwit, 2020), 3 chapbooks of poetry (Big Pond Rumours Press, 2006, 2016, 2017), a history (The Name Unspoken: Wandering Spirit Survival School, Big Pond Rumours Press, 2019), and a collection of short fiction (Naming the Shadows, Porcupine’s Quill, 2019). She founded and edited the international litrerary E-Zine Big Pond Rumours.