Her Face in My Hands, donnarkevic

Amy Casey, Difficult Extrication, 2007, Acrylic on Paper, 34″ X 42.5″

Her Face in My Hands


I met her in college,
an art class I needed

to round out something
in me that felt square,

a mandatory presence
like a firing squad.

She chose to sit next to me
in the back. Together

we watched slides:
Minoan art, a nude

man on a vase
holding the day’s catch at sea;

a Bambara fertility statue,
breasts engorged, belly distended;

a Mayan funeral mask
made of fragmented mosaic jade.

Over coffee she explained her passion
for art and her fiancée/sculptor

who captured her face,
freeing it from a block of marble.

She invited me to his exhibition,
but I never showed up.

Years later, at an art gallery
on Forbes Avenue I see her

face, white, still as stone.
As my fingers graze her cheek,

the clerk asks if I found
anything, yet, to my liking.



Review by Paul Willis

I enjoy the narrative tension of this poem. We follow the sublimated feelings of the speaker for his classmate to the surprising conclusion, years later, in which he runs his fingers over her literally sculptured face. The poem ends deftly with the clerk’s question of whether the speaker has “found / anything to [his] liking.”


Review by Preeti Shah

The poem narrates the descriptive antiquities taught in an art history class while simultaneously providing the history between the narrator and a classmate, for whom unrequited affections are probable. The examination and appreciation of art learned in class comes to fruition years later when the narrator is face to face, literally, with a sculpted version of the classmate. This confrontation seems to reveal ongoing feelings and the sculpture being alike the ancient artifacts, in that what the narrator is now studying may be ancient history. This poem is effective in revealing the subtle complexity of unrequited love.

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