Julia Caroline Knowlton

Camille Claudel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Poem for Camille Claudel

Year after year, the bread & cup. The bed.
You stand for many women, kept by men

behind a window, or within God’s womb of stone.
You remain alone though you plead to leave,

cultivating a hope that never bled to believe.
You draw a hand to hold with a stick in dry soil—

your bold vision wasted as night consumes day,
tasting the silence of a sky that tastes of clay.

Editor’s Note: This short rhythmic poem deftly laments the loss of artistic talent because of the forced commitment to the mental institution. You can read about the sculptor Camille Claudel here.

Julia Caroline Knowlton is Professor of French at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta.
She has an MFA in poetry from Antioch University and a PhD in French Literature
from UNC-Chapel Hill. The author of four books and an Academy of American Poets prize winner, she was named a GA Author of the Year for her 2018 chapbook, The Café of Unintelligible Desire.

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