Almost …

Boticelli’s virgin


The night we invaded the gallery
it rained and the snell wind
clawed through your clothes
and it wasn’t really night –
just late. ‘We close in
twenty minutes,’ said the man
and we chorused, variously,
‘We know’ ‘We’ve come to see
the Botticelli’ – as if he’d
painted only one – and then
we pounded up the spiral stair
under the glooming busts
and burst into the empty room.
And there she glowed
from a wall on our right
the pale face surrounded by
transparencies of flower
in pink. Floating. And we
stopped. The face was one
you might see reading on a bus –
not archaic or distant but
concerned, as if remembering
as she gazed, not at the child
but over, round and through.

Remembering or looking to
the piercing both of hands and soul?
Or was she seeing inwardly
the flaming eyes that greeted her
as problematically blessed
and hearing as she knelt to pray
the distant sound of snowy wings?
We stared in quiet until the room
was filled with unseen Gabriels
and then we heard approach not wings
but ordinary feet -‘It’s time’-
and smiled at this young messenger
and drifted into the wild rain
under a sky whose stars were dimmed
as lights and tinsel took their place.

© C.M.M.

2 thoughts on “Almost …

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