Michael Sowder – Ⅳ
— after the painting by Giovanni Bellini
— for Mike Carson
Called, he’s come out from his cave
and stands outside himself,
barefoot in robes the color of wooden
tools and sandals dropped behind, arms
held out, palms out, sun-struck eyes.
A single elm reaches into gold.
Rock of pale turquoise, pale blue,
nearly white, is moving beneath his feet,
swirling up into cliff, a wave
leaping from the frame.
Beyond the edge of cliff, on the crest
of an olive hill, the red-tiled roofs
of a villa. In the valley a castle
with parapets, turrets, green flags flying.
This is the world.
In the foreground a shepherd stands
by his flock.
Very close, a donkey is watching—
looking across the chasm where
Francis is burning, rapt
in his robe
like a wick in flame,
lighting this portal, this passage
for our translation.