Bertram Mackennal, Sappho. 1909-1914, Art Gallery NSW, Sydney.
I found Sappho in the gallery, curling over herself on a square white pedestal. She stares at her feet, their bronzed dormancy.
Cast in her thought / barefoot fragment forever, her soles planted on imitation Greek stone.
Naked, she covers herself; knees hidden behind the ‘x’ of her arms, making her mouth a mystery—and the position meant to catch a passerby’s eye makes her look full of shame.
Woman who gave all to the page, whose time weathered it away, why would she do anything but celebrate her visible body, worship her whole presence, her indestructible medium.
Joni Mitchell’s bodiless voice sings around us. In a wave of wind, the key to stopping the carousel floats by. On a wooden swing set, time becomes slowed and the sunrise always lies five minutes from now.
Joni lifts her key to match the birds waking up and the sun lets go of the air it’s been warming all night. How soft the light looks in the form of a shadow, dancing on grass. Like you can pick it up, the mellow incense of it, the scent of sunrise and suspended time.
Katharine Kistler is an MFA Poetry Candidate at Texas State University. She got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Her work appears in High Shelf Press, Shiela-Na-Gig, Roadrunner Review, 45th Parallel, Camping Magazine, and Appalachian Heritage. She is from San Antonio, Texas.