Lucretia

by Helen Jenks

after Lucretia by Phillippe Bertrand, 1704, marble

The instance, here, is the one where breath
absconds my body, but why does it linger still?
It is as if the last one will never come–– ah, you have
stolen it from me, monsieur, and carved it into
your marble with me, so that both it and I stay
frozen in such lamented acquiescence. Only an
artist would seek to beautify such a terrible thing;
you have neglected me, in your drapery and your sorrow;
you expose my breasts, pierce my sternum, crease
my face, all in the hope of mastery of your form. It does
me no good, I’m afraid. I think you have forgotten
who I am, sculptor, in the search for your laudation ––
your precious Rome was birthed in the rape and murder of
its women; I assure you, sir, that we have not forgotten.