Responses to “Anatomy of an Angel”, I: Poetry
The sinew, here, that stretches to sustain
the elegant inflection of the eye,
echoes the femur in the open thigh:
here one white axle-span, and here again,
the scaffolding of what we are, displayed.
The smooth-edged fissures in the marble skin
show off the subtle armatures within:
bones, organs, guts, immaculate, arrayed,
at once angelic, animal, machine.
Poised, as a dancer waits to start the scene,
with gaze turned down, obliquely, into space,
three-quarters of a head frames half a face
which, though serene, is not so beautiful
as are the silent contours of the skull.
4: axle-span is my translation of the Old English term eaxlegespanne, a unique compound found in the OE poem The Dream of the Rood. It comes from eaxle, ‘shoulder’ and gespann ‘joining, fastening, binding’; in context, it probably refers to the horizontal bar of the Cross.