Stephanie Pippin

Virgin and Child, with a Goldfinch, 1490

This is the way they made me
permanent, come to hurt my eyes
again, to unwrap me for myself,
                                    with light
in the shadow of an underwing.

Dear one, our story hit a snag.
Such slender thread
                                    as binds us
one to the other is bound
to catch on meaning’s edge.

It is what we have in common,
you and I, our planet, its four
corners filled
                                    with gifts
and ruins, with peculiar
occasions in sulfurous light

where there is no thought
beyond the odor of paint.
Though my hands beg let go,
                                    let loose,
the rasp of brush has fixed me
to the star, has wed me

to a rift in the air, removed
as fuses from a spark of the real
galaxy where angels visit,
then dwindle to wicks.

The goldfinch visits us too.
Its colors bleed as dreams
bleed through the deep
                                    dark hand
of an Old Master working

with bent wrist
                                    to snare us,
until I am sure that we will last
forever, until the angels
take their halos and go home.

Stephanie Pippin’s poetry has appeared in Boston Review, AGNI, and Michigan Quarterly Review. Her book, The Messenger, won the 2012 Iowa Poetry Prize. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.