(after Nat King Cole’s performance of “Mona Lisa,” by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston)
Are you warm, are you real, Mona Lisa?
Or just a cold and lonely lovely work of art?
He longs to know her gorgeous mystery,
desire colluding with near-piety
and well-tuned wonder in his serenade
to this new “Mona Lisa,” one that’s made
of flesh and blood. She’s strangely beautiful,
but like the painted girl, unknowable.
In vain, he asks her: does she mean to lure
a lover? To resist? Or to obscure
heartbreak? While her enigma fascinates
the singer, it’s his voice that captivates
the listener, as note by honeyed note
flows with smooth elegance from this man’s throat.
We hope his questions never end, his song
eluding cadence; we want to prolong
this wistful, weightless moment, this confection
of word and tone and tenuous affection,
a work of art itself. And if the pain
that may have motivated his refrain
becomes our pleasure, we incur no debt;
he sings beyond the shadow of regret,
where woe and splendor can be reconciled
as smoothly as the Mona Lisa smiled.
Jean L. Kreiling
Jean L. Kreiling’s first collection of poems, The Truth in Dissonance (Kelsay Books), was published in 2014. Her work has appeared widely in print and online journals, including American Arts Quarterly, Angle, The Evansville Review, Measure, and Mezzo Cammin, and in several anthologies. Kreiling is a past winner of the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Sonnet Contest, the String Poet Prize and the Able Muse Write Prize, and she has been a finalist for the Frost Farm Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the Richard Wilbur Poetry Award.
The Ekphrastic Review
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