"The slaughtered babies [of Pieter Bruegel the Elder‘s original] were painted over with details such as bundles, food and animals so that, instead of a massacre, it appeared to be a more general scene of plunder." On Massacre of the Innocents, catalogue/online entry, Royal Collection Trust
Soldiers piss against a wall. Icicles hang,
will never fall, though we will them to impale
the German mercenary who scales a barrel
to enter the window of a fraulein’s house.
What he will ruin will remain
mystery, even today. Something original,
changed, still flames in your great-great-great
grandmother’s bed, this stein of mead, the pewter
taste of blood; today on College Green
the bell tower’s carillon sounds
like air raid sirens in Kabul to a young man
next to me who doesn’t speak but stays behind
his medicated smile. Professor plays
A Love Supreme, and other twentieth-century
diatonic jazz. What lies beneath eventually bleeds.
The limbs of speared infants piled,
painted over as mashed bushels of fruit,
geese you find alive and white as the down
of a baby, drawn, in this 1988 conservation
of Bruegel’s Massacre of the Innocents.
Today, as if for the first time, I see her,
the daughter, slight as a thorn that works its way
to the surface. She reaches for her mother.
Like the others she will be raped, quartered,
stacked against the lean-to like wood.
Jane Ann (Devol) Fuller
Jane Ann (Devol) Fuller's poetry appears in B O D Y, Rise Up Review, Shenandoah, Sugar House Review, The American Journal of Poetry, in the anthologies All We Know of Pleasure and Women of Appalachia Project, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of the James Boatwright III Poetry Prize and earned her MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She co-authored Revenants: A Story of Many Lives, published with a grant from the Ohio Arts Council.
The Ekphrastic Review
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