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Michael Sowder – Ⅳ

Saint Francis in Ecstasy 

       — 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.