after Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise
The experts are saving the prophets and their wall,
___the prophets and the law, and the door
______to paradise. What does it profit
________a man to gain the whole, the world
Yet to lose, or to loose his head from the Renaissance
___and its gilt-stripped doors of bronze?
______The fire-gilded doors will be reborn,
________though not the apprentice, nor master, who formed
These out of wax and mercury, who left thumbprints in the hollow
___necks of the prophets, who shaped this one’s angular, urgent jaw.
______A guilted whore can be restored,
________seared and resealed, imperishable nation
In the hard-worded-heads of Jeremiah, Hosea, and the even-tempered John.
His hair now trimmed, his skin and its rusted lesions healed:
___be bathed in a deep and serious
______eschatological bath. Cleaned
________and restored, he is God’s blessed, muted boy.
You, still faded woman, gaze turned to one
___side, lost gilt and a laurel of hope
______around your weathered head—
________you too will be made new, and your patina lost.
Oh loss, not of dross burned away, but of the earth and its gathered glazes of time.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.