dVerse Poetics

Today Lillian is our host prompter.  She has given us several pictures of statues and asked us to write either as the statue, the sculptor, or other perspective.  Come visit us at:        .  I think you all will enjoy so please come and visit!


image courtesy L. Hallberg

image courtesy L. Hallberg

Mother and Daughter

My name is Isaak Metoyer son of Berthe Metoyer,
placee’ of Benjamin Janvier, vice president of
the Bank of Louisiana.
I am a free man of color and was apprenticed to the
stone cutter, Rene’ Dubonnet
when I was 10. It is now the year of our Lord, 1835,
and I have been doing the fancy work
for the last 10 years. I married
Clothilde Jumon. Our only daughter
died in the cholera plague two summers ago.
I have not been able to finish the statue of her
although I work when I can.
Rene’ has become older and clumsy
although he is still a master of design
and his last statue, a woman perched on the wall
in the Cemetaire St. Louis, is without peer.
I only want to finish this statue of my daughter
before her face fades from my memory.
Business is brisk due to yet another plague of Yellow John.
Our family tomb holds the body of my daughter
but there is no statue, no carving as to her birthdate
and date of death..
I pray to all the saints to finish the statue
before I die. My beloved daughter’s dear mother
is ill and I fear she will soon join our daughter
in that unadorned tomb.
I have stayed awake the last two weeks
working feverishly – the statue:
Irene sitting in her favorite pose
waiting for me to return home.
I begin to put the finishing touches onto the statue
of my daughter when Rene’ comes into the room
with tears in his eyes.  My beloved Clothilde has
succumbed to the cholera.  I polish the marble
of my daughter’s statue, emery the folds of her
little dress and pay especial attention to her
cheeks and hair.
I wonder if I will live long enough to complete
the statue of Clothilde, beloved wife and heartbroken mother,
dead at the age of 28 years.  God rest her sweet soul.
Now my two lovely butterflies shall rest together
– Irene and Clothilde – mother and daughter.
God save us all.

St. Louis Cemetery public domain

St. Louis Cemetery public domain

29 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Victoria C. Slotto
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 14:51:58

    You gave me the chills with this tender glimpse into the losses of the sculptor. So touching.


    • kanzensakura
      Jun 14, 2016 @ 15:14:41

      Thank you Victoria. I loved in NOLA for several years while a chef. I spent a lot of time roaming the vast necropolis and doing research on the various customs of the country. I miss that area greatly.


  2. Glenn Buttkus
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 15:16:00

    Excellent piece. I love historical pieces. It reads like you did some research, smacks of authenticity–something I dearly love to do for my own work. If this be fiction, it so very convincing; excellent job in either case. I love the line /now my two butterflies will rest together.


    • kanzensakura
      Jun 14, 2016 @ 15:19:00

      It is indeed fiction but you nailed it correctly. I did much research while a chef down in NOLA – researching the necropoli, the statues, the customs, the deaths from Yellow John…all of it. I miss living there dreadfully but the atmosphere would be fatal to my beloved husband so up here we stay.


  3. lillian
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 15:20:48

    Oh Toni: This is so so wonderful! The history, the language and voice you use. It is a timely poem — one I think you must keep and treasure. Having visited the cholera cemeteries in Bermuda (founded afterall in 1642) your words are so authentic to what occurred and the stones we saw. Bravo!!! I am sooooo glad I thought of this prompt just so I could read this piece of yours! I shall be reading it again, and to my husband, later on tonight! Bravo again!


  4. whimsygizmo
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 15:58:55

    Oh, so so sad. I love the voice you’ve taken here, the history within.


  5. Pleasant Street
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 16:13:08

    very good storytelling…so sad


  6. freyathewriter
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 16:30:15

    What a beautiful, and terribly sad story. Thank you.


  7. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 16:34:22

    I love how you went under the skin of the sculptor… the sadness of having to make them for the grave, the weight of his sorrow… all so well done.


  8. Sanaa Rizvi
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 16:42:33

    I have goosebumps!! This is truly an incredible write Toni 🙂


  9. Linda Kruschke
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 17:00:10

    Okay, I may be a bit on edge today anyway, but that brought unexpected tears to my eyes. The urgency of finishing one statue, only to take on the task of another, in spite of the palpable grief, is felt strongly in this lovely piece.


  10. Grace
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 19:55:48

    I enjoyed the retelling Toni, putting me there in the room with the artist as he hurries to finish up the one for his daughter, and then his wife. A sad tale but beautifully narrated.


  11. Bodhirose
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 20:05:38

    Oh no, what a horrific time to be alive with plagues and death surrounding you. Stunning and beautifully told tale, Toni. I could feel the clock ticking and the urgency to complete his mission.


  12. Nan Mykel
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 21:44:06

    “God save us all” — a fitting finale.


  13. kim881
    Jun 15, 2016 @ 02:21:44

    I so enjoyed reading this, Toni. It felt like I had travelled back in time. And such a sad story.


  14. Sumana Roy
    Jun 15, 2016 @ 02:51:38

    a commitment to the artist himself so beautifully expressed in this heartbreaking narrative…absolutely breathtaking….


  15. writersdream9
    Jun 15, 2016 @ 07:35:24

    Haunting and beautiful!


  16. Kathy Reed
    Jun 15, 2016 @ 10:18:56

    Very moving and believable as a true story of an artist and his family.
    Well crafted, Tony, as always.


  17. Walt Wojtanik
    Jun 15, 2016 @ 11:54:05

    Such a story of such great heart and love! Well sculpted, Toni!


  18. sarahsouthwest
    Jun 15, 2016 @ 16:57:20

    so very sad.


  19. maria
    Jun 15, 2016 @ 23:39:53

    This is beyond beautiful, Toni. Your words, the story. So compelling and there’s so much emotions on it.


  20. lynn__
    Jun 16, 2016 @ 04:32:57

    You’ve chiseled an urgent and heart-breaking historical piece…exquisite!


  21. Mish
    Jun 16, 2016 @ 17:22:49

    This is so believable and convincing as an authentic story. Your research in details and of the era definitely paid off in this piece and I feel the voice of the sculptor even exposed some of his personality. How heartbreaking to lose so many loved ones from incurable diseases of those times.


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