The Presentation at the Temple
The room smells of their sweat, perfume, and oils.
Light stirs the dust gathered beneath his easel,
The folds of her robes. Bellini has sketched her
Often, and he can follow the curves of her lips,
Her eyelids, without thinking about it. He
Hasn’t yet chosen a model for the child
Or for the high priest, but the priest’s robes
Will be a red brocade and the child swaddled
In linen, prepared already for his grave.
For the Madonna, only a light scarf,
No halos or other evidence of divinity.
Her earlobe pierced, but without a ring, she’ll hold
The child upright, close, and the priest’s hands
Will reach across a parapet. Time stops.
The witnesses will glance side to side,
Cautious as prisoners awaiting execution.
George Franklin is the recipient of the 2023 W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize and the author of six poetry collections. The most recent are Remote Cities (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2023) and a collaboration with Colombian poet Ximena Gómez, Conversaciones sobre agua/Conversations About Water (Katakana Editores, 2023). Recent individual publications include Another Chicago Magazine, The Decadent Review, Cultural Daily, and The Ekphrastic Review. He practices law in Miami and teaches poetry workshops in Florida prisons.
The Ekphrastic Review
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