Tuesday, September 14, 2021

"Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair"

In the painting by Guido Reni of Saint Sebastian
in the Palazzo Rosso, which reproduction makes available
to those who travel only on the page, the saint to be 
(he’s not yet assumed by artifice, encumbered

with perfections) endures continual martyrdom 
with a visual sigh, gazing almost directly upward 
as if to ask What now my love, or hum a chorus of
Is that all there is, the body always some song

or another. The eye tramping the simulacrum 
of a surface hands have touched can’t help but note
how lush the uncorrupted flesh appears: the curve, for one 
example, of the waist (narrowest circuit of the boy),

just beneath the instance of an arrow’s entrance, or
the shadow just above the tangled loincloth that is surely
pubic hair. One grasps that sainthood is an attribute of youth,
the wondrous fair, as in old ballads; they always end.

The boy in the Eagle Discount Supermarket, 
for another, an apparition in a backwards baseball cap 
appraising cuts of meat in artificial light, 
deciding what he can afford

to buy, how much each cut costs. I love the ground
on where be stands. His face? Unverifiable.

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