The Visconti put you on their flag: a snake
devouring a child, or are you throwing up a man
feet first? Some snakes hunt frogs, some freedom of will.
There’s good in you: a man can count years on your skin.
Generously, you mother and father a stolen boy,
to the chosen you offer your cake of figs.
A goiter on my neck, you lick my ear with lies,
yet I must listen, smile and kiss your cheek
or you may swallow the child completely. In Milan
there is a triptych, the throned Virgin in glory,
placed on the marble below, a dead naked man
and a giant dead frog of human scale on its back.
There’s hope! My eyes look into the top of my head
at the wreath of snakes that sometimes crowns me.
Stanley Moss, “Allegory of Evil in Italy” from A History of Color: New and Collected Poems. Reprinted with the permission of Seven Stories Press, www.sevenstories.com.
Source: A History of Color: New and Collected Poems (Seven Stories Press, 2003)