Fall 2009, #16
       "Woodchuck vs. the Hank Williams Zombie"

Pygmalion's Embrace

     by Ellen Tabios
One man, Pygmalion, who had seen these women
Leading their shameful lives, shocked at the vices
Nature has given the female disposition
Only too often, chose to live alone,
To have no woman in his bed. But meanwhile
He made, with marvelous art, an ivory statue
—from Ovid’s Metamorphoses

These are my last words
before I become stone

the same color as the ivory
virgin known as “Beauty”

defined by crumbling pages
gasping, “Her name is Galatea”

A god stopped playing
(for once) to manifest mercy

A god blinked long lashes
for a statue to step down

from a pedestal also carved
by my withered hands

The statue blinked long lashes
She whispered her name: “Galatea”

Her mother was her father was
my instrument carving her curves

Who could have foretold
she would transcend my grief

over the women she—that is, I—
emulated through ivory and stone …



She reddened her lips into roses
She revealed her breasts for moons

She opened eyes fearlessly at the sun
She laughed as she spread her thighs

These are my last words
before I sculpt myself into limestone

a chateaux as moonwashed
as the ivory whose purity I formed

into the virgin I desired. But
I accept her departure from my

opened hands as the price for tasting
human lips before they now proclaim

“Poems make stones breathe. Within my eyes
poetry, nature, art and wine converge

for a life beyond stone.” I live beyond
stone by immortalizing her within my fold—

an embrace formed by stone walls
as white as she on a pedestal

mythologized as “the perfect woman”
even as her flesh wrinkles, then cracks,

for living in the world, becoming
of the world, forming the Real.