Home > Transformation > On Not Seeing Inside the Sistine Chapel

On Not Seeing Inside the Sistine Chapel

July 18, 2008

You were a sky-gazer, a cloud-watcher,
seeing within those steamed puff-pillows
the forms of fabulous beings.

Just now I saw a fisherman, his white head
turned away, his finger flung
behind him pointing at infinity.

His rag-rolled head streamed to the west,
clothes rippling in the high sky-wind.
And when my lazy eye looked again

he morphed into a huge ornamental E,
whose top lintel was a crocodile’s mouth,
snapping at the blue. This too bleeds,

feeds into a sterling pound sign. You
must have spent afternoons on your back
gazing at patterns forming and merging,

dissipating where the mind dragged it.
You took your pigments and pulled them,
your art fixing a borderless sky inside

a broad high vault, peopling the heavens.
Ah, Michelangelo, I know why the sky
became your backdrop, why it is that you

loved shades from azurite to smalt to cobalt blue.

by Barbara Smith

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  1. July 18, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Oh, that’s gorgeous. Thank you.

  2. Sally
    July 19, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Wonderful poem. Thank you!

  3. July 19, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Fabulous, Barbara. How fortunate for us that you missed out on the Sistine Chapel!

  4. July 19, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Beautiful and beautifully read.

  5. Pete
    July 21, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    A beautiful piece. Thank you, Barbara.

  6. lynne shapiro
    July 21, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    This is a wonderful poem. One I will not forget.

  7. July 22, 2008 at 4:46 am

    Thanks very much everyone! The response is really amazing.

  8. July 24, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    That’s really terrific. Smalt? A new one to me.

  9. pc
    October 5, 2008 at 6:52 am

    Great job Barbs

    Whose yer poet? You’ve got my head back in those glorious clouds with this one. Looking forward to our pint this afternoon


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