Monday, August 22, 2011

San Lorenzo

In San Lorenzo, commissioned in 1421
By Giovanni di Biccci de' Medici, the load-bearing
Columns, pilasters, and arches are distinguished in color
From the walls: the church is legible space.

Construction of the nave was overseen by Cosimo, son of Giovanni.
Clement VII, grandson of Cosimo, commissioned the library
As well as the counter-facade of the church with
Its balcony for the exposition of relics. Unfinished at his death

The bronze reliefs of Donatello were designed
To be seen in sequence, at eye level.
In the panel depicting the resurrection

Cerements hang from Jesus' arms like leprous skin.
Disheveled, he carries the standard of victory
But stumbles over the bodies of the dead.

The surface of the bronze is animated
Only if you bring a flashlight
As my teacher did in 1981. For a year
I lived in her large apartment in Trastevere.
In exchange for the room I walked her dog.

His name was Remo. Her husband had died. In San Lorenzo
She said two important things.
First, you need to carry a flashlight.
Second, isn't this beautiful.

 by James Longenbach, from the poem Lives of the Artists, which appears in his recent book called The Iron Key. Last year I featured here another James Longenbach poem (one that also appears in The Iron Key) about the young great dead classical pianist Paul Jacobs.