November 2, 2023

The Calf Bearer, ca. 560 BC

In the sculpted marble of the Moschophoros,
The little creature is riding upon the shoulders
Of an Arcadian shepherd. The calf bearer
Is holding onto the calf by its skinny ankles
And striding forward. His face is lit by the famous
Archaic Smile. And the creature too is serene,
As if it had no idea of what’s in store
For it at the butcher’s block of the holy altar.

It’s after dusk when the Moschophoros at last
Puts down his cleaver and hangs up his bloody apron.
But when he gets home his wife and child are waiting
For him in the yard. Then up the back-porch steps
I ride on his shoulders, feeling his grip on my ankles...
Sixty years later this sudden, vivid remembrance.
And then again—the shock of the severance.
And then again the tenderness takes hold.

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