The Opposite of Pygmalion

She’s breaching the limits
climbing the scaffolding
hauling herself up poles
rolling over the lip of the kick-board.

My hands race like a card sharp
trying to confuse the eye
not wanting to let her off the plinth.

I don’t want to release
this unlovely construct into the world
slithering over edges and ladders
filling space with clammy earth.

As fast as I squeeze her
between my fingers
she gobbles air
grows out of my reach.

I try stuffing what I can
back under the cloth or into the bin
but she stretches

breaks away like over-rolled dough
till I sit in a litter of ripped tarpaulin and gobbets of clay
coated to the elbows in grit-pitted fleshly slip,
cold with guilt for the future.



Gillie Robic was born in India and lives in London.  Her first collection, Swimming Through Marble, was shortlisted and published in 2016 by Live Canon, who also published her second collection, Lightfalls, in October 2019.