The Marble Faun and Other Anecdotes of Excess
Muscled calves and overworked thighs, neck thick with the weight of wineskins and ferrying baby goats. I thought the boy would be graceful or at least a little more delicate, although the cracks in the arm and back indicate he's been broken at least twice. His entire body, sculpted from red marble, seems to pulse with pleasure; though only his pointed ears, no doubt coated with soft fur, seem edible. The goat staring up at him seems drunk too, or at least too gay for a goat, his mouth laughing at something his shepherd had said. He's a shepherd, sure, but most of his sheep are long lost or eaten by wolves, taken easily by thieves, even his pipes, probably his ninth or tenth pair, the others left hanging on a tree's branch while their wine-blind owner tried to find home. Grapes grown and crushed, sugared and consumed too quick. But let's not regret what's already done. Pipe us a song animal-boy, if you can remember one; we've been pretending you're not one of us, for centuries.
I should have told Tina it was time to call her mother when she, nineteen years old and my student, said she thought she was pregnant and asked, her eyes staring into mine, What should I do? It was too late to teach her the ridiculous Italian word for condom--preservativo—and anyway she said it'd been an Italian and trying to convince one of them to wear one was, even old teachers know, not an easy task especially in English. This was the same girl I'd taken to the pharmacy to buy something to treat a yeast infection. The same girl who showed up smelling of beer two mornings of four though she'd, so far, submitted her homework on time and never been more than five minutes late to any class excursion. I taught her how to say pregnancy test in Italian--test di gravidanza—and then bought her a three-pack even though I knew I'd regret it. After all, she was my favourite.
But, she said, I wanted the dirty jokes and the small ears. I wanted a strong back and a tattoo on every appendage. I wanted his piercings, three in each ear and particularly the one through his tongue. I wanted the huff and puff and for him to blow my house in. I wanted the loud Italian musicNegrita and Subsonica, and the cheap English beer. He was too poor for a whole joint, but he offered me half of what he had and didn't get mad when I took almost all of it. The Carrefour supermarket where he used to work had issued an arrest warrant after he stole the entire hind leg of a hog, uncut and stuffed in his bag. He said he didn't intend to keep it, but for god's sake, who takes so muchprosciutto crudo and doesn't mean it? I paid for dinners and didn't mind, but I wouldn't let him take any photos of me naked. After I left Italy, I deleted even the ones with our clothes on.
Sarah Wetzel is the author of River Electric with Light, which won the AROHO Poetry Publication Prize and was published by Red Hen Press in 2015, and Bathsheba Transatlantic, which won the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and was published by Anhinga Press in 2010. When not shuttling between her three geographic loves--Rome, Tel Aviv, and New York City--she teaches creative writing at The American University of Rome. She holds an engineering degree from Georgia Tech and a MBA from Berkeley. More importantly for her poetry, she completed a MFA in Creative Writing at Bennington College in January 2009. You can see some more of her work at www.sarahwetzel.com.
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