Karen S. Henry

Pine Row Issue No. 8 Autumn 2023 - Featured Poet

Shona Statue


On the dark round of the world

their arms form a ring


mother lifting child

         to see the sun

child clasping mother

         to steady her.


These Shona figures

you gave me

before I had a child of my own

after one of yours


                                 was gone

you couldn’t catch him.


Their rounded heads

contain what can pass

between mother and child

yet they are smooth stone

as if the pair

         have already vanished

into their future absence.


A sign that you too are gone

my arms, my heart, my head

too heavy to lift now

         into the circle.

About the poem:  as shared by the poet

I wrote this poem after learning of the death of the woman who gave me the Shona statue -- a sculpture  showing a mother and child joined by arms creating a circle connecting the two figures. My dear friend worked with me on original theater pieces produced by the Boston Theater Group, works that drew us close to  each other. The reference to Icarus is to one of her sons, who tragically took his own life. 

Karen S. Henry collaborated with director Herbert Blau and Kraken in creating and performing Elsinore, based on Hamlet, and Crooked Eclipses, based on Shakespeare’s Sonnets.  She co-founded the Boston Theater Group, producing works based on Kafka, Ovid, Shakespeare, and contemporary poetry. With composer W. Newell Hendricks, Henry received NEA grants for the operas The Cell and Ascona, and she currently performs and writes for Row Twelve Contemporary Music Ensemble. Her poems have appeared in BoomerLitMag, Cathexis Northwest, Crosswinds, Night Forest, Stoneboat, and the Literary Whip podcast from Zoetic Press. Her chapbook, All Will Fall Away, was published by Finishing Line Press.

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