I’ve been working on a number of projects lately, including my own poetry. What follows is the result of my ekphrastic mash-up of two images: Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (1481) and galen dara’s married (2008). A strip of the latter painting was featured in the banner of The Exponent II‘s website a couple weeks ago and I found it striking, beautiful, evocative (the words I used in a tweet to @TheExponent trying to track down the artist and the title), so much so that I felt to respond in kind, with a creation of my own.
The contrast between these two paintings and the Edenic mythos their marriage evoked struck me as a tension that might work well in a poem. So I set out to lyrically critique the one in terms of the other (I’ll let you decide which one is which) and to extrapolate connections between images that are removed from one another by over five centuries.
As always, comments are welcome.
* * * *
No Botticelli, This–
No ginger virgin, hands modest to sex and breast,
flesh fallow, fecund as sky gone to seed in the sea:
her father’s cerulean stones sickled into primordium,
become pit to her emanant pith. No escort ashore
on the zephyr’s hymned gestures toward Paradise,
wafted with rose hips come like souls wanting skin.
No velvet robes ready to sop up her mythology, to
keep her from burning her first day at the beach.
Just this Eve and her Adam, curling down currents
of dawn like leaves slipped from the knowledge tree,
flesh converging to vessel the easterly sighed down-
canyon when God realized they’d grown restless
waiting for his newly charged cherubim to doze,
drop their swords, spill the tokens and signs
of his mystery as they dreamed. So the pair
streaked through asphodel fields instead, emerged
from under cover fig leaves into the blush of blossom
against bodies gnawing, gnawing at the edges of sky.
* * * *
[Added 8/12/2010]: If you’d like the full aural experience of the poem, click here for an audio version that you can read along to.