Illuminated (A gigan)

Curl this leaf, branch, wing.  Cradle a dragon’s face in a box of light
the endless tail a thin swirl of the pen.  Paint red on vellum’s white.

Saints know the world too well.  Above them the saturated sky
of infilled cobalt blue—a lake of stars.  Decorum of color.
Keyhole window in the tower.  St. Cuthbert as a shepherd boy

outlined in a ribbon of gold—the earth a bestiary burnished by the sun.
Helix, Celtic cross, the psalter’s monsters and grotesques.

Foliage in arabesque.  A tree infolded like an artichoke.
The ark’s unloading, goat and hedgehog, the lion’s hooded locks.

In a corner, the dark head of St. John’s eagle.  Gryphon, emblazoner
Curl this leaf, branch, wing.  Cradle a dragon’s face in a box of light

outlined in a ribbon of gold—the earth a bestiary burnished by the sun.
Every story sifting through the one the hours told.  Angel with red wings
against a golden ground.  Hannibal’s elephants vexed

by the blizzard snow; his soldiers’ metal masks closed down
as gods and men and beasts lean into the ironwork of text.


Issue 11

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