Eric Norris offers a uniquely creative poem on the Renaissance genius in a moment of reflection.
Leonardo in the Marketplace
He nicked the skin on purpose, to release
the light. Scented by the lemon that he held,
the neat half-moons of his fingernails
glowed this morning. When he sniffed the rind,
the odor of a memory—a spoiled
uterus—left his nostrils. A young girl
he dissected, with difficulty, last night. She
died giving birth to twins, two boys. He was glad
they lived. He took the time to sketch her hands.
They were particularly delicate, lilac, even
rendered in red chalk. He wondered why
we must turn blue in death? He wasn’t sure. He tossed
his lemon in the air and caught a song
above the cartwheels and the coughs. “How much
for the goldfinch?” he asked. Bird and man,
both cocked their heads. The poor refugee named
his price. Leonardo paid. He had no wish
to haggle over prices. Wicked cages.
The pages of his notebooks were bad enough
imprisonment. He might tie wings to men,
but there the similarity of men
to birds ended.
He could set finches free.
Editor’s Note: Eric Norris has published with us before. Read his excellent “Takaaki.”
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Photo by Jan Voorhaar /Flickr