The Three Graces
Three daughters of Zeus stand in triangulation:
from left to right, Joy, Charm and Beauty, their bare feet
tiptoe an altar, two right legs and Joy’s left
obtusely bent at the knee. See how their pale arms circle
in careless caress of a back, face or marble shoulder
in sisterly love or carnal intent. A single scarf connects
Joy’s sex to the other two, hiked up where Beauty cups
the belly of Charm's breast, that mistress of elegance
who deftly (as we might expect) turns her head away
to steal kisses from Joy on our left. But Beauty looks blind
with her too serious face as if preparing a father’s banquet
or sharing a sisterly secret, powers overcome by Time
and attitude. In chiseled irony the sisters seem evenly lit,
though Joy’s riding a hidden pillar in a garland of flowers.
Michael Salcman is a retired physician and teacher of art history. He was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. He is a child of the Holocaust and a survivor of polio. His poems have appeared in Arts & Letters, Harvard Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, and Poet Lore. His books include The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises), nominated for The Poet’s Prize, The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises), Poetry in Medicine, a widely used anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness and healing (Persea Books, 2015), and A Prague Spring, Before & After (2016), winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press. Shades & Graces, forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil (2020) won the inaugural Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize. Many of the poems in his published collections are ekphrastic in nature (especially in The Clock made of Confetti).
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