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Published: Mon Apr 15 2002
Art by Jin Suk

When the artist painted the vault of Il Gesu
_     _ he set the gold clouds on fire. Who is it
that watches from the nave, neck arched,
_     _that lights a candle for fire?

The broken stair, the ladder undone. Noah asks
_     _if we’ll meet the Magi when we die.
Freud says memory, at four, is complete,
_     _its harvest moon pale mirror full.

Moon shadow in the well, gathered,
_     _spilled, paint on the ceiling,
I try to explain what it must be to draw
_     _a thousand-foot ceiling, build a scaffold

to support your weight and lie face up,
_     _brushes in your mouth, mixing burnt umber—
some blend of linseed oil and animal—
_     _and sunlight falling on the dark wall.

Or ash, the moth we keep behind the glass
_     _in the bathroom. He wants
to open it, wants to touch its shadowy,
_     _electric blue, or set it loose

into the winter air, moth in snow
_     _that was an envelope, swathed
in sleep, leaves of gold or mud, a room
_     _fifty feet by twenty to grow a million

silkworms spinning out their threads
_     to make a shirt, a scarf, a sheet
to sleep beneath, perfect insect,
_     Imago Dei
, that was a worm, bursting.

See what's inside AGNI 55
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