Iris Jamahl Dunkle was the 2017-2018 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA. Her poetry collections include Interrupted Geographies (Trio House Press, 2017) Gold Passage (Trio House Press, 2013) and There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air (Word Tech, 2015). Her poem “Listening to the Caryatids on the Palace of Fine Arts” poem will be featured on 100 buses as part of the San Francisco Beautiful and Poetry Society of America Muni Art 2020 campaign. Her works have been published in Tin House, San Francisco Examiner, Fence, Los Angeles Review of Books, Split Rock Review, Taos Poetry Journal, Pleiades, Calyx, Catamaran, Poet’s Market, Women’s Studies and Chicago Quarterly Review. Her biography on Charmian London, Jack London’s wife will be published by University of Oklahoma Press in 2020. Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is the Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.
Listening to the Caryatids on the Palace of Fine Arts
The curve of roof echoes the roll of golden
coast hills solidified in travertine
marble. In front, the reflecting pool’s eye,
where the dome, the city’s past, floats is split
by swans. Once a city built from redwood
plank and gold dust, until earth shook it down
to mud and ash. In 1915, twelve
plaster palaces bloomed from the ruined
Marina. For nine months, San Francisco
grew fat again with visitors and fame.
The exhibition ends. Palaces razed.
Only this mute Roman structure remains
crowned in weeping stone maidens who,
whisper back to us in sea wind, bird song.
Iris Jamahl Dunkle, “Listening to the Caryatids on the Palace of Fine Arts.” Reprinted with the permission of the author. All rights reserved.