Soapstone Figure by Nicole Michaels

If her wrists ache, forgive her:
They are freshly chiseled.

If her head rings, maybe it’s the hammer
somebody just laid down.

Others are quick to admire
her newly gaunt shape,

her willowy thighs,
the slope of her nape.

But her waist stings from the rasp,
and it appears she will forever be naked,

no hint of clothing in the scheme,
bare toes clasping a block,

that remnant of her soapy seam.
The sessions are long, and when she’s

left alone under a drape,
she recalls a coppery darkness,

the scrape of shifting plates,
the song of gems, and how she wept with aquifers.

Now her arms seem to be reaching
up for something – she worries

they haven’t finished her face –
wants a good nose –

She believes they will send
birds to perch on her shoulders.

She believes her hands will become bowls.



Nicole Michaels is a Marin County, CA native who makes her home in frontier Wyoming. She is a working poet with a degree in English from Stanford University where she studied under the late Diane Middlebrook and chose an emphasis in feminist studies. She spent some time in the American South as a journalist for small papers.


Nymph with a Scorpion, Lorenzo Bartolini, 1845.

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