* * *
Virgin and Child with a Dragonfly
After an engraving by Albrecht Dürer (about 1495)
She doesn’t notice it
And neither do I
Until something starts up in us—
Then suddenly: bronze
Between see-through wings,
The dragonfly flashes its wand.
How ever, she wonders,
Could she have missed
Its look-at-me look next to her hem?
So much else to attend to, of course.
Joseph, what does he want,
Arm slung over the back of her bench?
And the dear child himself
With his little hand at her neck.
Once she’s glanced away from them, though,
She sees it is paradise. One, two, three,
More goldfinches flushed from the grass.
And like a child now herself,
She claps others from hiding:
Surprise! A monarch
Unfolds its fan; the live coal
Of a cardinal glows.
Then just for fun (red, red, another one)
She thinks how like the sour cherry
Ripening the bird is when it flies.
And her mind, freed, flying now,
Sees from the stones the cardinal drops
Each branch of a new tree flare.
Tinder, everything’s tinder
For the dragonfly’s wick, she cries
Before she goes up, goes out.
* * *