Menu

Poetry

The mid-flight photograph reveals

the Virgin. Outside the plane is night.

A cabin window frames the frame

where, centered, stands impossibly

the Virgin, hands raised heavenward

to guide the eye, frame the blessed face.

A cloud obscures the Virgin’s face.

A cloud can solve a lot of problems.

Imagine there your face, the teacher

says. We try. But it’s a problem:

the Virgin’s clearly brushwork—

window of strokes arranged so we

might see beyond her to beyond—

and we, mere flesh. Yet the picture-

taker’s daughter can, says the face

she sees in her mind’s eye is hers.

We learn that year the eye is too

a window, just as this photograph’s

a window to the window to the Virgin.

Great revolutions in the arts, I’d later

read, are merely shifts in context.

This thought can make the photograph

a modern miracle. Decades later,

when I see the picture-taker’s daughter,

she looks like me—kids in tow,

tired behind her grocery cart. Her face,

her face as I write this grows hazy

the way in the mind particulars do.

It’s true. Close your eyes. Along

thought’s periphery, see how black

hair frames her medal of the Virgin,

the silver V of chain which leads

your eye, directs upward your gaze.

Imagine anybody’s face suspended

there. As you pursue the image’s

particulars—arch of brow, a lip’s

attendant curve—see each feature

held so steady by the mind.

Now see the way each disappears.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Access one piece of artwork every month for free! To experience the full archive, log in or subscribe.

Related Poetry

abstract image of a window with scratches and dew on it, background is green and murky and blurry.

Sudden Death

By

Richard Michelson

image of a bed with a pillow thrown on it, a spot of sun hitting the wooden bed frame.

Brought Back

By

Chris Forhan

bare trees against a blue sky

The People

By

David Yezzi

Byzantine Gold

By

Derrick Austin

Pin It on Pinterest