sfumato

So they named you Mona Lisa,
as the song goes,
blather on about your smile.

It’s the sfumato, stupid!
Smoke-gets-in-your-eyes effect
like in that dusky bedroom where, they say,
Salai “the little unclean one” swept
cobwebs from the eyes of old Leo,
whose enlarged pupils caught every nuanced
pass of his oily stroke.

And it’s what you witnessed
those years after hours when candlelight
guttered,
you, glowing sallow against that rich-hued view,
on an easel in the corner
like a screen-saver flashing some
Parisian one-off,
watched as the King’s painter stripped his
kitschy tunic in shadows
more inscrutable than those through
which the runes of your embroideries send
their cryptic missive through
bullet-proof glass.

Were you thinking
of that drawing by anonymous of penises-with-
legs pursuing Salai’s ass?