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Under Glass

ISSUE:  Autumn 1987

Santa Maria della Vittoria

The church is a window to another
world that asks me to shut out the rest
of Rome and step into the 15th century
stories in marble and stone
telling of the thorns, the bones,
offering proof—the heart, the left
shoe—to make faith a fact,
to urge the arresting photograph.

So here lies the body under glass, a saint,
her gown embellished with its blinding stars,
her head arranged on two embroidered cushions
that bend her neck to breaking. This
to display the martyring
wound, her slit throat
issuing painted droplets just renewed.
She is no longer amused by the predictable.
Knowing this, it occurs to me
to stylize every gesture,
enunciate every syllable, just in case,
in the split second all heads are diverted,
one eye opens
and invites me deeper than I ever dreamed.


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