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Cecelia Gallerani.

After "The Lady with the Ermine" by Leonardo da Vinci

, he calls her, as a flower
and wants her with him all ways,
finds gifts to delight her--
French passamenterie
 for her gown,
the velvet mantle with red-slashed sleeves,
a new viola da mano
, perhaps, from Brescia--
confines her lightly as the net
holding the hair to her temples,
sheathing the luster
only he may unbraid.
He is Ludovico Sforza, Il Moro
Look how she wears him about her neck--
a string of polished jet. And he is called
L 'Ermilio
, too--see the ermine
she caresses, fierce and priapic,
he strength of her (oversized
you think?) hands. Does she boast
she holds him, owns him, carries
his child? Who does she see in the distance?
And why does she look so sad?
Long after the indolent hours of posing,
after Sforza leaves her (before the portrait
is dry) to marry Ferrara's
pale daugther, and after Leonardo
is reassigned to engineer
the nuptial celebrations,
and after the bride dies
in childbirth and Cecilia confides in her letter,
you would not recognize me today
the painting--long forgotten--
is sent to Cracow, where Delacroix
(who knows pourquoi
?) blackens
the background, covering the window
over her shoulder, so we'll never know
what she and Leonardo saw.
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Article Details
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Author:Ryan, Joan Roberta
Publication:Atlanta Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2017
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