Venus Rising by Jean Léon Gérôme

It Is the Rising I Love

As long as I struggle to float above the ground
and fail, there is reason for this poetry.
On the stone back of Ludovici’s throne, Venus
is rising from the water. Her face and arms
are raised, and the two women trained in the ways
of the world help her rise, covering her
nakedness with a cloth at the same time.
It is the rising I love, from no matter what element
to the one above. She from water to land,
me from earth to air as if I had a soul.
Helped by prayers and not by women, I say
(ascending in all my sexual glamour), see my body
bathed in light and air. See me rise like a flame,
like the sun, moon, stars, birds, wind. In light.
In dark. But I never achieve it. I get on my knees
this gray April to see if open crocuses have a smell.
I must live in the suffering and desire of what
rises and falls. The terrible blind grinding
of gears against our bodies and lives.

—Linda Gregg

My daughter Kellin in a moment of glorious upreach

Linda Gregg is the author of six collections of poetry. Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Literary Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the 2006 PEN/Voelcker Award winner for Poetry.