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Touch Gallery: Joan of Arc

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The sculptures in this gallery have been                        

carefully treated with a protective wax                         
so that visitors may touch them.                                     

exhibitions, the art institute

of chicago

Stone soldier, it's okay now.
I've removed my rings, my watch, my bracelets.

I'm allowed, brave girl,
to touch you here, where the mail covers your throat,
your full neck, down your shoulders
to here, where raised unlatchable buckles
mock-fasten your plated armor.

Nothing peels from you.

Your skin gleams like the silver earrings
you do not wear.

Above you, museum windows gleam October.
Above you, high gold leaves flinch in the garden,

but the flat immovable leaves entwined in your hair to crown you
go through what my fingers can't.
I want you to have a mind I can turn in my hands.

You have a smooth and upturned chin,
cold cheeks, unbruisable eyes,
and hair as grooved as fig skin.

It's October, but it's not October
behind your ears, which don't hint
of dark birds moving overhead,
or of the blush and canary leaves

emptying themselves
in slow spasms
into shallow hedgerows.

Still bride of your own armor,
bride of your own blind eyes,
this isn't an appeal.

If I could I would let your hair down
and make your ears disappear.

Your head at my shoulder, my fingers on your lips—

as if the cool of your stone curls were the cool
               of an evening—
as if you were about to eat salt from my hand.
Mary Szybist, "Touch Gallery: Joan of Arc" from Incarnadine. Copyright © 2013 by Mary Szybist.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press. www.graywolfpress.org
Source: Incarnadine (Graywolf Press, 2013)
Touch Gallery: Joan of Arc

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