On Not Seeing Inside the Sistine Chapel
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.