Uffizi Gallery, Florence – Painting P1472
’Tis the tempestuous loveliness of terror;
For from the serpents gleams a brazen glare
Kindled by that inextricable error
Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air
Become a [ ] an evershifting mirror
“On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery”
Percy Bysshe Shelley
and yet each snake
breathes as human lips
hold the fault of air,
we see eyes fixated
on the top of a clock
as we stare without
making eye contact.
Blaming the victim –
underlying health conditions
judged harshly by the “healthy”
who think they’re immune,
shielded by the screen’s
filtered and fixed
in their motion
a night sky shocking
with its lack of stars
but glitz of satellites –
not reflections of sun
we bank on
rising again – fangs,
forked tongues, skin wings,
a nest a misattribution
a critic’s noting
“lack of finish”
for “Il Florentine”
snakes via tail thickness
whether or not
they enfold hemipenes,
embedded in follicles –
hair roots –
or the prying light we cast.
Between freeway and shopping precinct
Widowmakers throw limbs onto car roofs
And windscreens while a flock of a dozen
White-tailed black cockatoos counterpoint
The squalls coming from the north
Before setting off parallel to a thousand cars
That defy the weather taking all in their stride
Their wake as if only vulnerable when parked,
Indifferent at best to the cockatoos’ odds.
Interval to loss which seems too inevitable.
And all those bonds of shifting air pressure
Torn apart searching for refuge and not
Just augury to dangerous conditions
Already here – sky falling horizontally.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 24, 2021 as "Two poems".
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