Poetry Pause: Susan Ioannou — Sculptor

Poet name: Susan Ioannou Poem title: Sculptor * Poem: (for Anne Lazare-Mirvish, 1919-2013) I do it with love. Fingers thickened with clay trace his sinewy hands —so beautiful— spreading into rest. Posed in her studio, this aged personage she sculpts is unfestooned with medals and ribbons, simply a kind, good man months widowed and jagged with grief. His high cheeks, muscled by decades of dignified smiles, bunch much thinner now. She’ll pare some fullness from his earlier sitting —but sparingly, for art must be not a bronzed surface but the resonance. She sculpts. His shoulders sink, and as the long-pooled darkness spills across his words, she halts her scalpel and snaps, So what? So what? Loneliness, she knows, can thicken drop by drop and choke the spirit down, an oil-soaked clump of feathers. He nods, half smiles. She probes. So hard she yearns to mould around this wired emptiness not the once-sleek figurehead but a fragile ruggedness that breathes. Going on, she scolds, takes little day-by-day braveries. Yet even as her fingers pinch and press raw clay, the wires’ layered emptiness gapes back —If you have the art . . . she hears her own darkness swooping in to hover, doubts spilling over . . . —So what? So what? he snaps, and she discovers her subject probes and shapes the sculptor too. End of poem. Credits: *This poem was inspired by Anne’s personal account of creating a bust of the late Lincoln Alexander, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, not long after his first wife had passed away. Copyright © Susan Ioannou Originally appeared online in Ygdrasil, then was published in Looking for Light and collected in The Dance Between: Poems About Women Toronto poet Susan Ioannou has also published stories, literary essays, and novels for young people. Her collections include Poems on Geology, Metals, Minerals, and Mining (Wordwrights Canada), Looking for Light (Hidden Brook Press), Where the Light Waits (Ekstasis Editions), Clarity Between Clouds (Goose Lane Editions), and The Dance Between: Poems about Women (Opal Editions). Her website is www3.sympatico.ca/susanio