Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Leonardo In The Marketplace

“Passing the places where birds were sold, he would pay the price asked for them, take them from their cages, and let them fly off into the air, giving them back their lost freedom.”
-Giorgio Vasari, 1550

He nicked the skin on purpose, to release
the light. Scented by the lemon that he held,
the little half-moons of his fingernails
glowed this morning. When he sniffed the rind,

the odor of a memory—a spoiled
uterus—left his nostrils: a young girl
he dissected, with difficulty, last night. She
died giving birth to twins, two boys. He was glad

they lived. He took the time to sketch her hands.
They were particularly delicate, lilac, even
rendered in red chalk. He wondered why
we must turn blue in death? He wasn’t sure. He tossed

his lemon in the air and caught a song
above the cartwheels and the coughs. “How much
for the goldfinch?” he asked. Bird and man,
both cocked their heads. The poor refugee named

his price. Leonardo paid. He had no wish
to haggle over prices. Wicked cages.
The pages of his notebooks were bad enough
imprisonment. He might tie wings to men,

but there the similarity of men
to birds ended. He could set finches free.


Walter Beck said...

I dig it, Eric.

David Brenchley said...

very nice .. I think the best poetry is that where you have to pause at the end of each stanza to contemplate before moving on .. I also liked the the way you bridged between them .. nice piece, well written, thought provoking ...

Eric Norris said...

Thanks guys. I started reading a new bio of Leonardo and a couple little details leaped out at me, so I thought I would write a poem on it. It was fun to write!