Jennifer Franklin on the writing of her poem “Eurydice’s Revelation” in Salamander #44

I loved visiting the Metropolitan Museum with my family when I was a young girl. Shortly after I moved to NYC for graduate school, I began writing in the museum while seeing an exhibit or visiting parts of the permanent collection. On one such visit, following the break up of my twenty-year relationship, I saw the Rodin sculpture of Eurydice and her pained expression was familiar to me. The poem began for me with the line, "he never loved me." The carved marble made me realize the depth of the betrayal. The entire premise of this poem hinges on my interpretation of Orpheus's inability to listen to the gods and not look back—that he was too much of a narcissist to love anyone. There is something about the revelation, in addition to making art from it, that is consoling to me.


Eurydice's Revelation


after Rodin


You never loved me. If
it were really me whom


you adored, not just
the sound of your own


voice, you should have
been able to listen—


follow that one command
not to look back before


we were together again
in the light, lavender


tulips at our feet, open
as the cavern’s voracious


mouth. All the days you
sang to me with your deep


voice, were you singing
for yourself? Even when


you called after me, every
syllable of my Sapphic


name ringing in my ears,
you were a more skilled actor


than you believed, playing
the role of lover, pretending


that all you wanted was my
mouth on yours. Instead, you


sought fame—all nightingales
to imitate your song.