While Standing in Front of the Caravaggio

📷: Daniel H. Tong

brush strokes like silk
on Saint Matthew’s robes,
I am brought to January,
the college library
frost clinging to the windows
and your face hidden by an oversized book.

I don’t know what to write, you say,
pushing the book towards me
Italian Artists: black shiny cover, gold print.
I slide my fingertips over the smooth,
crisp pages. Tracing muscles, cheekbones,
thinking of poetry.

Five months later, and I am here: the San Luigi dei Francesi
studying this canvas,
the contrast of light,
Matthew’s shadowed, knitted forehead,
the thin wisp of a halo,
his tense, wrinkled hands. All this
forming lines of verse in my head.

And now I know
there are two things you will never understand: art
and me.