(after Georges de La Tour’s four paintings)
Whatever demons were cast out of you,
however sinful you life was,
you sat down in a dark interior and posed.
A model to penance, tears burning
on the rim of your eyelashes,
your bountiful rib cage echoing with sighs,
your luminous fingers holding a skull
with unwonted rage.
The mirror reflects no vanity, just
your loving face smeared with clotted
blood, lips swollen by his torn feet,
the cruel nails of the Golgotha.
A smoking flame shines a dark light
on your pensive chin, on your naked
shoulder and legs, on your creased
scarlet dress, on the heavy tomes,
on your long black hair,
on the neglected pearls
falling to the ground,
ready for the swine.
Ardor stifled. Passion crucified.
Be still, heart! Beat!
Be still! Beat, heart!
When she is not translating, Alessandra Bava is writing the biography of a contemporary American poet. Her poems and translations have appeared or are upcoming in journals such as Gargoyle, Plath Profiles, THRUSH, and Waxwing. Two of her chapbooks, They Talk About Death and Diagnosis, have been published in the States.