The sky of Duccio is of solid gold:
Virgin and Child look out upon the world.
A crowd prays all day to it in Siena,
attesting what the human hand can do.
Meanwhile, republics war and plot and exile.
Up from the mire arises timeless art
to break us out of circumstance, the way
a fish lifts from the water when a hawk
releases it to daylight. Blood and bone
do not define us, for there is a spark
trapped in the meanest envelope, a fire
that yearns to climb the heavens. Every face
is worthy of transcendence. As we gaze
at Duccio in Siena, as we learn
of love that moves the sun and other stars,
we break our shackles and step out upon
what passes for the absolute. Begin
to read the alphabet; the words will come.
John Claiborne Isbell
John Claiborne Isbell was born in Seattle, USA and later lived in Europe and the United Kingdom, where he went to school. He has been teaching languages for some time, teaching French and German at universities in the United Kingdom and the United States. He has published various books, including a volume of poetry, Allegro, with a picture of a cello on the cover. His wife is Margarita and their son Aibek is 31.
The Ekphrastic Review
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