Colmo: Virgin of the Snow
by Medbh McGuckian
As the year begins in Florence,
The stars north of the equator that never set
Push dying spacecraft further out
Like thinner back leaves.
The white roses do nothing to rescue it,
Becoming lowered eye, ivory ear,
Raised lips, then flowers again,
The cooler white of a silk.
Only the two big clouds were planned
So that both saints can stand,
Important, inner saints, aristocratic,
And expensively dressed,
Gold over powdered shell gold,
In the most protected part of the room.
Given that some wood would
Have been lost, the wings of both angels
Would have hung straighter.
And the edge of the inside wing
Of the most damaged angel
Must once have equalled the usual blue
Shadow meandering across the lap
Of the other seated angel.
The highlight on the ‘M’
Confirms the presence of silver,
But a sixth nail is missing
In the gap between her head and its element:
The closeness of the nails to each other
Is like snowflakes.