“To any artist, worthy of the name, all in nature is beautiful, because his eyes, fearlessly accepting all exterior truth, read there, as in an open book, all the inner truth.”

—August Rodin


Because I am trying to write 
“statues” and “stature” keeps 
taking its place, the weight of 
it becomes a thing that grips

my head, falls from my mouth, splits
the page open and tries to find  
a hammer there with more weight 
than I can put into the words 

because none of these words are
heavy enough and the book has
become the boy, alone in my lap, 
and I can not comfort him and I 

can not touch him or hold him 
upright, or take the mask of blood 
from his beautiful face and so he 
dies there, on the page, far from 

me and the leaves turn and they 
blow across his face and I do not 
feel them and I do not see him and 
I am not beautiful like he is and 

I do not think that I could ever be 
that beautiful and I do not even know 
what that means and I do not know 
that I have ever known the real cost 

of being a body that desires and I 
can not see the beauty in the mask 
that he is made to wear or in the 
dance that he is made to perform 

or in the words that he is made to speak 
or in the price that he is made to pay. 


Rodin also said, “The human body is 
first and foremost a mirror to the soul 
and its greatest beauty comes from that.”

What do we see now in the mirror? Our
beauty? I have only this empty book, lying 
here, closed and heavy upon my lap.


(after Richie Hofmann's "Book of Statues")
(This week marks the twenty-first anniversary of the beating and murder of Mathew Shepard)

(The photo is a detail of Rodin's sculpture, "Despair", in the collection of the Saint Louis Art Museum)