Edna Small


Queens in the Garden
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

The king and queen,
slim bodies of bronze,
perch on a curving bench.
How can they be so weightless,
so unmarked, the queen’s slight
nipples the only sign of sex?
Single eyed, they stare into space,
neither sees the other.
They do not deign to speak.

Further down the path
the woman from the Yucatan
is seated on a camp chair, her legs
spread wide under a broad draped skirt,
her massive bronze body at ease.
Her eyes are closed, her face smooth.
She has already loved, given birth,
nursed, grieved. Now she rests.
When you can, be still, she says.
When you must, be fierce.

Edna Small is a retired psychologist living and writing in Washington DC. Small has twice participated in the Jenny McKean Moore writing workshop at George Washington University. She has been a featured reader at both the Iota Poetry Reading Series in Arlington, VA, and the Kensington Row Bookshop Poetry Series in Kensington, MD.

Her poem refers to the following sculpture: King and Queen, by Henry Moore (1952, 1953), and Seated Yucatan Woman, by Francisco Zuniga (1979).


Published in Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 2009.