Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

At the Prado
after Chloe Martinez

Let’s say it didn’t matter
that on the way over as I crossed the street,

a man was hit by a car, his body levitating
for a moment in the blue, blue of Madrid. How still

the air that time of year. How green the nettle trees
that had rooted long ago, before Franco

had bloodied this city, before the trees found themselves
shading benches between the branches

of Paseo del Prado heading north and south,
as accessory to the museums and hotels luring tourists,

and now witness to the man thrown beneath their gaze.
Beneath mine. His ears and nose blooming,

eyes glazed open. So that when
I finally got to the Prado with my visiting friends,

we planted ourselves in front of the Bosch triptych—
The Garden of Earthly Delights as if it was a game,

Where’s Waldo? perhaps or the one where you must
find something shifting from panel to panel.

I could only see each creature Bosch painted—
insect, animal, human—independent from the whole.

Even now, I can’t step away from the painting,
can’t see the story of it, only the bodies. Each body

alive, lusting. Before dying a bloodless death
as if tortured from within. As the driver

may be all these years later. The scene
in his rear mirror: a body suspended in the purgatory

of the moment. His foot lifted, hesitating

above the pedal
before bearing down.  

return to top