Reverse Sculpture

By: Richard Dey

Featured art: Untitled by Richard M. Loving

                                                                                                               As the stone shrinks, the form expands.
                                                                                                                                                     —Michaelangelo

It’s like sculpting in reverse,
       learning about love:
Here’s a Maiden or Aphrodite or Venus,
       naked and polished
or is it the Doryphorus or David or . . .
Isn’t s/he nice? The Ideal in spirit and form?
       Miss or Mister Universe!

Then, in reverse, as you learn
about the apple of your eye
       in revelations you can hardly believe,
       (marble with veins like that!
       granite with such cracks!),
the stone chipped away chips back
       chip by chip, and chunk by chunk,
       all superfluous fugitives reuniting,
and not without the dusty air re-ringing
               with the tap-tapping of
       chisel and mallet, point and hammer,

refilling all the subtle negative spaces
that defined the planes and rhythms—
       mound and hollow, ridgeline and gap—
and the warmth that passed
       from the sculptor’s hands into the work,
all his perseverance, passes back . . .
until before you grandly stands, unhewn
and cold, a breathless, glacial block of stone,
       Lovelessness now reappointed
whose last words (whispered
       with chiseled lips lastly parted) were,
“Darling, are you disappointed?”


Richard Dey studied for a semester with Elizabeth Bishop, and under Robert Fitzger- ald at Harvard College, where he was poetry editor of The Harvard Advocate. His poems have appeared in Poetry and The New Republic, among other publications. His books include Bequia PoemsSelected Bequia PoemsThe Loss of the Schooner Kestrel and WESTPORT POINT Poems. Dey lives in Needham, Massachusetts.

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