Death and the Maiden, Egon Schiele
Dürer depicted it first: The lover
reclining into the beloved’s lap,
and the swoon of his skin,
suddenly turned sallow. She reached back
and pushed her hands through his layered
hair, and pulled it all lightly out
of his head. Back then, Death
was so quick—it was almost degrading.
But not here: Where the bump of hills
is body without end, and grass
oozes at the edges of the knolls’
eternal affair, the rippled flow and intersecting
sheets crumple unbounded by time. There,
a woman, not reaching for a man’s
hem, but, ring-less and inured, her teeny arms
have known the slow terror of Death.
How many days before her gangly grip slackens,
and she returns to life? And what
of Death? The craggy angle of his back
is lodged in the painting like
a mountain’s changeless range,
and his head and legs float
against a dark and igneous figure. With his hands
reeled in and the kink of those long fingers,
Death cleaves to his life.
Andrew Hanson is an English Literature student at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. His work has appeared three times in his college literary magazine. He was born and raised in Miami, Florida and grew up careening around the Caribbean—catching fish and spearfishing. As of late, he has turned his attention to Medieval Literature and Philosophy, studying as a visiting student at Oxford University.
The Ekphrastic Review
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