Three Fragments

dulce venenum, excès vénériens

romulus and remus erect statues of their mother, creating a sculpture garden filled with plaster castings of her body. rhea sylvia as vestal virgin. rhea sylvia raped by mars. rhea sylvia birthing the future of rome—twin boys, twin brothers molding their mother’s body out of marble, travertine, mortar. a body they’ve never known. their mother entombed alive after giving birth, her remains shifting under dirt and the dust of buried relics. in their sculptures, she is always nude, and the boys trail their hands over unfamiliar curves, over breasts never suckled, a womb once occupied, now forgotten. their mother still a girl in their minds. in their monuments. the twins spend hours amongst the sculptures, severing and rejoining limbs, posing her in every permutation. the horned-rhea, the child-rhea, the saint. rhea the erotic—plaster hand between her legs, plaster head flung back. placed in positions she could not possibly maintain. head bent between her legs, breasts covering her belly, suckling herself—both she-wolf and foundling. they enter her as if she is a virgin. breaching her hips in an inversion of birth—the two boys together, their sexes identical. tongues pressed to the nipples, searching for milk. the boys finger the wet contours of her sex—so smooth before the plaster dries—her nipples still pliable, her body damp and lithe. but the statues always stiffen and sear, leaving the boys thirsting. their throats dry, their bodies parched for liquid. the brothers moisten the materials. they manipulate the molds and recast the plaster. replicating their mother’s form until they have created a legion of rheas—a rome populated by her alone. the boys grow old in their mother’s company, spending days sitting before her, their heads resting on her knees. at night, the boys dream of their mother, and in their dreams, she is dreaming of them. her muscles flexing under her skin. each movement decadent. as she prowls the garden. her sculptures spread across acres. thousands of rheas recumbent. amassed like an army at the city gates.