Ghost Frescoes

By Maria Terrone Maria Terrone

Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, Verona

A chubby fist and wing
float free, severed
from the landscape of human affairs.

Below, a barefoot saint
seems to straddle acres, beaming
casual self-possession, the divine

right to stake eternal claim—but
in the space between
both legs, a third intrudes,

last remnant of a man fading
to white dust. Nine hundred years ago
this wall was his. Reduced

to a toehold, he now spites
the fourteenth-century arriviste,
holding his ground with the ghost

of what he was. The saint remains
oblivious. Centuries sweep
around him like planets' rings;

the church's wheel-of-fortune
spins rose light
through plague and war.

Yet so vivid
are his blue and russet robes,
he glistens—a refugee

from a sun shower
who's arrived dripping wet, an idea
fresh from the brush of his maker.

Source: Poetry (December 1999).


This poem originally appeared in the December 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

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December 1999
 Maria  Terrone


A lifelong resident of New York City, poet Maria Terrone is the author of two books of poetry: The Bodies We Were Loaned (2002) and A Secret Room in Fall (2006). She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has received the Individual Artists Initiative Award from the Queens Council on the Arts. 

Drawing on her Italian American heritage, Terrone describes her work as exploring “family, ethnicity, migration, and the . . .

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