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.