Venus and Adonis by Stuart Greenhouse

          cf. Peter Paul Rubens 1630s
Aren’t archetypes terrible she said
(an arrow-nick of blood
her outer thigh)
there’s nothing to change them
but still we pray
(her soft fingers vining
his tricep, his shoulder)
(folds of silk draping her groin).
I’m not an archetype like you he said
no-one will remember my name
pray for my beauty to touch them
pray for my beauty to touch
I’m just a man
a bit of weather in the shape of a man
I am nothing but change
a scudding of hunger
until I am nothing.
It’s been true
each of the myriad
thousands of days
that he’s said it
up on that wall,
little cupid
tugging at his left thigh.
You are so weak
without your arrows
he can’t even feel you
and his lean, ribby dogs
are impatient
to get on with it,
white as the froth
of a riptide whirlpool
circling to his right.
I tell you this because
it is not your nature
to be very self-perceptive
— to intuit, I mean, the bigger
picture you’re part of —
and there isn’t much time left
for you to forgive yourself
before he leaves her for
the next painting
(the one which hasn’t happened yet)
and its solitude
deeper than living.
Stuart Greenhouse is the author of the poetry chapbook What Remains. Poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, The Collagist, Laurel Review, Ninth Letter Online, and Notre Dame Review.