He Sees a Madonna from the Workshop of Bellini
You were a woman; the cinquecento put
gold leaf around your head and made you a queen.
You sit dressed in silks, with a strange rootless olive branch
springing up behind your shoulder, and a castle
in the background, anachronistic—and then, of course,
the soft naked infant, deceptively unhaloed,
whose face is a miniature reflection of your own.
Everything must be immaculate. Even the pietà
is clean and bloodless; a dark wound like a slit,
stigmata, maybe, but nothing else. And you are there
as young and dove-eyed as you ever were,
cradling a corpse as smooth-skinned as the child.
If it happened, there were no embroidered robes,
no study in drapery. You could never forget
that burnished angel and that sunless noonday;
astonishment, grief, the confusion of love.
You knew them all too well. And, in a way,
you were like us, Lady. Like us.
Rebekah Curry is an alumna of the University of Kansas and the University of Texas at Austin. Her chapbook Unreal Republics is available from Finishing Line Press, and her work has also appeared in journals including Antiphon, Mezzo Cammin, and Blue Lyra Review. See more at rebekahcurry.tumblr.com.
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The Ekphrastic Review