The Kiss by Rodin
There is a sculpture in the Chicago Institute of Art,
a place I haunted as a teenager whenever I could,
and dreamt of my husband to be, and marriage,
swoony and drowsy and strangely aroused,
called the Kiss. It is a seated man and a woman,
in white marble, her right leg hooked over his left knee
and they are unclothed in that formal way
marble sculptures have, toes and thumbs curled,
where the observer could believe they are not nude.
The wisps of hair on her forehead,
perhaps the Greek way of long curls pinned up,
their eyes closed, their faces almost hidden
in the sharp promise of their love,
and the two kiss in a kiss caught since the
sculptor.s chisel created.
Were they alive, they.d seem alone, bodies smiling,
taken in with bright longing,
as if all of Chicago weren.t traipsing by.
Would they hear the buses outside,
smell the languid urban exhaust,
and take in the breezy air blowing in from the lake
where large trawlers head aft to stern into Navy Pier?
Would they hear the El in the distance,
feel it bounce portentously on heavy stanchions,
or hear the dining longboats on the lake
sound their lyrical baritone foghorns
into the reaches of Michigan Avenue skyscrapers,
traffic boisterous on Wabash and Wacker Drive?
Or the song of the bells in St. Patrick.s Cathedral?
No, for they are seated side by side,
turned into each other, heads bowed in
to the kiss, his left arm stretched out and
encircling her right hip,
his right fingers curving onto her left upper thigh,
reaching to her with his heart and hope,
as she in her kiss
has swung her chin up to his face,
her left arm arcs up and her hand touches
his neck and right shoulder
and her right knee, sweetly mobile
and so like a song, enlivened,
has tilted up, so as to open
and lift her self into their life together.
poems by Kathleen Ripley Leo
Where Truth Lies
Up, Over the Steep Hill