Patricia Wallace Jones

In the Renaissance Rooms of the National Gallery

Various artists’ renderings of the Visitation,
Luke 1:39-55

Two women. Usually, a centered pose.
A handclasp, or a dancer’s line of arm
lifted to embrace. Here static form,
there chiaroscuro in the folds of clothes
speak volumes: women serve here as dumb shows.
Backgrounds are more alive — a Tuscan storm,
a row of brooding poplars. In the corners,
donors or saints irrelevantly doze.

One wonders why the artists never heard.
The drama is not in image here, but sound —
not fluid waves of veil covering hair,
but holy terror. Listen: the praise of God
who lifts the weak. Who throws the strongmen down.

Hear how the words unnerve this privileged air.

Maryann Corbett’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, The Evansville Review, Measure, The Dark Horse, Mezzo Cammin, and other journals in print and online. Her chapbook Gardening in a Time of War was published in 2007 by Pudding House.