Friday, May 05, 2006

"Ave Maria" by Keith Harvey

Ave Maria

Fat frozen drops fall
from bruised clouds
onto the Uffizi
and a tourists’ queue
stretches serpentine into rain
that soaks fur coats,
and stains leather pants.

Mother and child wait,
speaking French to one
and German to another.
The mother pulls her mink coat
against her body
and shrugs at the sky;

her child frowns,
moans and pouts,
her olive skin vibrating,
her black eyes flashing anger
as she begs to leave.

They stand before an altarpiece
by Martini, tempura on wood.

On golden board
the Virgin, with olive skin,
is so shocked
by the angel’s suggestion,
in gilded Greek
that her body recoils
from the words flying from his mouth
and her black eyes flash
as her mouth turns down to reject
impregnation through her ear.
As she refuses to relent and pouts,
the angel, with embroidered wings,
holds an olive branch as a bribe.
Recognizing her youth
he grows firm and resolute,
making his case until she
hears his potent words.

Doves gather and wait
like tourists in the winter’s rain.

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