Mantegna

by Neeli Cherkovski

consider the blue and the red,
take your pain to the hills, do not allow envy or anger
into the house, step over the dying leaves
and let no man cast a spell over your daydream
the women are enigmatic in so much of what
is seen on the walls, emerging
from the corner of the gallery comes
a ghost out of another time, he
explains how to listen to the images,
some men are in love and others
spread malicious talk
over the town, then remember
to shut your eyes for a moment
in the gallery, or before the alter
Mantegna’s “Christ in scruto”
has toes curled inward, they touch
the viewer, his arms are in repose,
his face leans to the left.
the foreshortened perspective goes
where it should not go,
this is a most human God,
and goes toward dread desire
the dead God is obscene,
two old women weeping
appear to represent everyman
living in fear of what is coming,
but then the eyes of the deity
are slammed shut, his bellybutton
is a human one, he has
a bulge in the right location,
and there are holes on the backside of his hands
where the Romans nailed him
so he would hang forever