05.29.2008

The Easel of Mantegna (a poem by Kelly Grovier)

Empty-armed, like a soldier
waiting for the deposition
still to happen, watching

as the rough skin is stretched
across the squat square ribs
and stapled, scraped with a palette-

knife before the morbid under-
taking of the gesso and the paint;
or say instead you always were

inclined to play an active role
in this, our cruellest fiction:
empty-angled and pristine save

where you were brushed
with the death and cleansed
with the dizzy stench of spirit.

You are the awkward ladder,
the hallowed steps, the endless
air forever drifting through

the thin rafters of an unroofed
steeple—on or in or out of
whom the wide sound of resurrection

still remains for us a thing
we listen for in silence:
untolled, unrunged.

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