Thursday, August 16, 2007
PT: Better Late?
FROM THE CORRIDOR
wanting to be hidden,
I wait for the old woman in the bed
half-dead already, though not yet through
with dying, to quiet.
All along the window ledge
dead brown leaves blown across
the yard by a cold wet wind
grip against the glass with clarity
and precision of vein and broken edges.
She used to cry all the time
now she only whimpers and asks
with a voice that grasps like hands,
Are the holidays here?
Not yet, I say. That seems to satisfy
I do not know
and a voice in me wishes her away
or myself gone from this place
I am afraid
seeing myself in this white-lacquered bed
grasping toward strangers.
On Christmas Day the sky clears
and the splash of wind against water
sprawls ice and sighs on sidewalks and doorsteps
the boy brings the paper
which has, beside a picture of African
and American travelers getting out of their
vehicle at Nkongsambe, West Cameroon
a picture of the Branchini Madonna
in a gown of acorns and oak leaves
in punched gold, an altarpiece in gold
brocade most perfectly preserved
She holds the standing Christ Child
in her arms, the two of them
upheld by seraphim
white doves, cornflowers and marigolds.
The glass glitters with frost
and the air is filled with smoke
Meanwhile, not enticed by such glories
as frost on glass, fragrance of smoke
she stirs, waits for the light to go
for the thudding of her heart to stop
for the frock-coated whispered gathering
and I am afraid
seeing myself in the white-lacquered bed
grasping toward strangers
(A true story)
The Branchini Madonna, painted in 1427 by Italian artist Giovanni di Paolo. -- It's clickable!