Poem | Rodin’s ‘Adam’

Auguste Rodin, ‘Adam’ (Edmund Gall/Wikimedia Commons)


…the tragic pleasure of admiration.

He emerges from that stone womb stumbling,
yet still, with rocky sleep in his eyes, a lingering
curl in the toes. Life-struck, he’s cast into
the bronze light of first morning. The wild beauty
of a fig tree seen for the first time, the strange
softness of grass, sharp contrast from the rock
his foot is anchored to. Rodin captured the spastic
flex in the unfolding, the softening of metallic lines
into the run of the calf, the blooming tufts of hair.
He’s the best and the worst of us. The first to feel alone,
the first to cast blame, the last to know the light
of eternal day. His eyes contain both the blank gaze
and the shadow from his brow furrowed
in ugly confusion. Does he feel death in the marrow,
buried in his breath? Does he sense his capacity
for grief, the sunken joy in that first place?
The knowing finger points down. Hiding in the clay,
there is always something holding us back,
a catch in the breath, the muscles never relax. 

Published in the February 2022 issue: 

John Moessner works as a legal writer for an immigration law firm in Kansas City. His poems can be found in Arts & Letters, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Poet Lore, and River Styx.

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Poem | Superposition of Grief

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