Hands in the Sistine Chapel
Fingertips tentative early that morning
you tested the fresh plaster
to know if your painting could begin.
Too soon: it yielded to your touch
and for a moment, to seek support perhaps
or simply to pause for thought,
you rested your whole hand there,
and in that moment of repose you knew
the skewed perspective you would use
to feign volume for the viewer far below
who’d see two hands outstretched
to strike the arc-light of creation.
I stood there once, high up
on the restorers’ scaffold. I saw
the handprint that you left that day
and at arm’s length I felt your touch.
Now, as I gaze upwards from the marble floor,
all I can see is the hand of the master
in his image of the finger of God.
Nico (Nicholas) Mann. Long since retired academic (Cambridge, Warwick, Oxford, London), who has not quite been able to let go of his attachment to Petrarch - less as a poet however than as a scholar and self-fashioner. Other intellectual passions: myth, the Middle Ages and Mnemosyne, which can all be encompassed in the study of the Classical Tradition as a key element in European civilisation. Has been writing and translating poetry for over 60 years and hasn't finished yet, but also teaches yoga, which he has practised for as long as poetry, and is passionate about carving stone.
The Ekphrastic Review
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