blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Sienese Variations

With candor, the devil (silhouetted, visage effaced, torso highlighted with
   criss-cross scratches
As if someone had tried to rid the world of this image of evil with an icepick)
Points down from the height of the temple's crenellation. Jesus rebukes the
Down here, a quorum of pigeons preens and paces between a swath of sunlight
And a colonnade of skewed shadows, congregates and lifts—one body—
   subsumed in glare.


The headache keeps me from the apprehension of immanence.
I stand in the shade of battlements, towers, the wall's embrasures,
   heat-stung, dizzy, disoriented.
Through some gift of intuition, perhaps,
                                                               I know what it is I do not know.
I construct an I who senses, in the stark Siena noon, God with us,
Among us, in us. By us I mean only the I and only for that instant.


Inch by inch, a story, although unraveled and ragged at its end, continues:
The ether of grief transmutes into tears, the tears into relics, the relics back
   to ether.
I spend the afternoon studying Duccio's depiction of the entry into Jerusalem.
Is the look of awe on the faces in the crowd the awe of wonder, or the awe
   of dread?
I admit I'd be reading ahead if I said this had the look of a funeral procession.


I've been known to stand at a height ( in a bell tower, on the catwalk
   circumscribing a cathedral's dome)
And to imagine the stepping out and off, the curve of, the acceleration of the fall,
And to imagine the distance of the fall
                                                            as three or four seconds of calm, of
Three or four seconds without misgivings, retractions, or apologia,
An amplitude of lightness in which, despite evidence to the contrary, one
   seems to levitate.  

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