Sharon Olson

Caryatids
by Sharon Olson

The nut-tree sisterhood, what better name
for a row of crazy women, wearing hats
of entablature, pushing down their skirts
on a breezy porch, or frozen pilaster-flat
against a supporting wall,

sometimes forming the base of a table,
or candlesticks, standing as rigid
as a portmanteau, but no one available
to carry their cloaks,

six of them stolen by Lord Elgin, and
for more than a hundred years holding
their poses in the British Museum, their
weight shifted, contrapposto, three on
the right leg, three on the left,

only five of them returning to Greece
after much finger-pointing and posturing,
the girls themselves insisting they were
not slaves but merely brawny, and comely,

coming from the same hometown as Helen,
a village of walnut trees, Karyae—hence
their name—where the nut women
placed baskets of live reeds
on their heads and danced.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 1.

Sharon OlsonSharon Olson, a retired librarian, lives in Guilford, Connecticut. Her book The Long Night of Flying (Sixteen Rivers Press) was published in 2006, and her poems have appeared recently in Arroyo Literary Review and U.S. 1 Worksheets.

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