that priest looks just like Belmondo
–Wislawa Szymborska, Funeral (II)
—Look at his hand, his palm. Like a pianist’s —But that old guy can’t see a thing
—What next, paying in a church
—Mom, my head aches
—Sharply individuated human figures
—Keep it down please, we can’t focus
—The coins on the table, how much are they worth
—His operation’s just three weeks away
—I’d say silver, definitely silver, but not pure
—Lord, how lovely
—To adorn the Contarelli Chapel
—Which one is Matthew, the young guy or the old?
—We almost got robbed on the subway today
—Two generations of European artists took it as their model —Look, there’s a cross in the window
—The light went out again
—The wall on the left is so black, like the world’s end —Have you got another euro or fifty cents?
—Can’t be the young guy
—They’re closing soon, hurry up
—He saw a man collecting taxes
—How much are these paintings insured for
—Jesus is in shadow but his face is light
—I’m leaving now, I’ll wait outside
—Why don’t they have a guard?
—They live in semi-darkness and suddenly there’s light —It’s going out
Three Caravaggio masterpieces hang in a side chapel of the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome; you put coins in a meter to turn on the lights.
Excerpted from The FSG Poetry Anthology, Edited by Jonathan Galassi and Robyn Creswell. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2021 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.