An overcast Monday at the Musée
Rodin. In the garden, leaves graze the Gates
of Hell, collect near Burghers of Calais.
It is after 1 PM. Edward’s late,
again. His tour group waits near the entry.
I’m sorry. Je suis désolé. Their canes
brush the marble floors, pool cues that sharply
outline space. Edward runs in, shaking rain
from his hair. He joins the other tour guides,
murmurs apologies. He takes an old
woman’s arm, blots the morning from his mind.
The couple pauses to observe. He holds
her hand to the sculpture: hands intertwined.
Gasping, she marvels, So lifelike! So cold!

The French teacher’s sub was scheduled to start
after the holiday, but the illness
intervened. Edward’s francophone, knows Sartre,
has lived in Paris. The girls try to dress
maturely for his class. With one, he shares
the story of Camille Claudel, mistress
of Rodin. Didn’t end well, that affair.
For their final class, he softly suggests
a field trip to Dayton. Works of Rodin
are featured. A girl sits in the front seat
next to him on the ride there. When the van
parks, he rushes his students from the street.
He leads the girl towards unfinished, bronze hands,
whispers, Metal warms under body heat.


HANNAH STEPHENSON is a poet, editor, instructor, and singer-songwriter living in Columbus, Ohio. Hannah earned her M.A. in English from The Ohio State University in 2006, and her poems and songs have appeared in Huffington Post, Contrary, MAYDAY,, and qarrtsiluni. Her collection, In the Kettle, the Shriek, is available from Gold Wake Press (August 2013). She is the founder of Paging Columbus!, a literary arts monthly event series. You can visit her daily poetry site, The Storialist.

2 responses to “Guided Tours”

  1. Rich Boucher says:

    I like this poem, and, especially, this:

    “In the garden, leaves graze the Gates
    of Hell, collect near Burghers of Calais.”

    The music in this line rolls off very nicely.
    Thank you, Hannah.

  2. Hi Rich,

    Glad you enjoyed this! Thanks for your comment.

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