Caravaggio and His Followers

from Your Name Here (2000)

        You are my most favorite artist.  Though I know
	very little about your work.  Some of your followers I know:
	Mattia Preti, who toiled so hard to so little
	effect (though it was enough).  Luca Giordano, involved
	with some of the darkest reds ever painted, and lucent greens,
	thought he had discovered the secret of the foxgloves.
	But it was too late.  They had already disappeared
	because they had been planted in some other place.
	Someone sent some bread up
	along with a flask of wine, to cheer him up,
	but the old, old secret of the foxgloves, never
	to be divined, won’t ever go away.
        I say, if you were toting hay up the side of a stack
	of it, that might be Italian.  Or then again, not.
	We have these things in Iowa,
	too, and in the untrained reaches of the eyelid
	hung out, at evening, over next to nothing.  What was it she had said,
	back there, at the beginning?  “The flowers
	of the lady next door are beginning to take flight,
	and what will poor Robin do then?”  It’s true, they were blasting off
	every two seconds like missiles from a launching pad, and nobody wept, or even cared.
	Look out of the window, sometime, though, and you’ll see
	where the difference has been made.  The song of the shrubbery
	can’t drown out the mystery of what we are made of,
	of how we go along, first interested by one thing and then another
	until we come to a wide avenue whose median
	is crowded with trees whose madly peeling bark is the color of a roan,
	perhaps, or an Irish setter.  One can wait on the curb for the rest
	of one’s life, for all anyone cares, or one can cross
	when the light changes to green, as in the sapphire folds
	of a shot-silk bodice Luca Giordano might have bothered with.
	Now it’s life.  But, as Henny Penny said to Turkey Lurkey, something
	is hovering over us, wanting to destroy us, but waiting,
	though for what, nobody knows.
        In the night of the museum, though, some whisper like stars
	when the guards have gone home, talking freely to one another.
	“Why did that man stare, and stare?  All afternoon it seemed he stared
	at me, though he obviously saw nothing.  Only a fragment of a vision
	of a lost love, next to a pool.  I couldn’t deal with it
	much longer, but luckily I didn’t have to.  The experience
	is ending.  The time for standing to one side is near now, very near.”