Rodin imprisoned this moment
in cool, white marble that seems to
breathe and pulse with life, blood flowing
in unseen veins beneath the skin.
What contradictions: such beauty
in such anguish, your tender flesh
chiselled from harsh, unfeeling stone.
You, condemned for eternity
as a merciless murderess,
a vicious, cold husband slayer,
not acknowledged as another
victim in men’s grim power games.

The poignancy of your despair
as you lie alone, defeated
by the impossibility
of the task, those tools unsuited
to the never-ending demands
of your punishment. Women’s lives
are forever tied to water,
subject to the dictator moon.
You and your sisters, powerless
commodities, bartered, battered,
pitiful, you lie exhausted.

You and your abandoned, cracked urn
weep at the cruel futility
of your toil. You may be a myth,
an ancient warning to women
who rattle their chains in protest,
but you are a familiar,
sad symbol of subjugation.
There was not even sanctuary
in your creator’s Gates of Hell.