Michelangelo and the angels

January 22, 2007

The trouble is the halo. He’s never dissected one,
prying it open with a blade under cover of night
to determine its component parts: seeking with his
fingertips for the thin band of cartilage that holds
it erect, or the branched nerves channeling light
as coldly steady as foxfire on a rotting log.
The same goes for wings. Without evidence
from his cadavers, he dispenses with them,
painting angels as fit as young quarrymen
and pasta-loving cherubs to whom aerodynamic
principles will never apply. Even God looks
as if he climbs into bed each night stiff
from a hard day’s work but not ready for sleep,
his brain crammed with thumbnail sketches
of airy beings aglow with inexhaustible fuel
flying by faith in unborn Bernoulli’s constant.

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