“Even Duccio can’t match
Giotto’s stage management of great tragedy”:
Transgendered Professor Y. in leather miniskirt
paces before the screen, wood pointer
scraping saint faces, slapping
hunched women of the Lamentation.
Blue-gold tumult of the chapel walls.
After-lunch lecture hall heat.
You’re in that class with me. We go on
from there—not long. You do The Waste Land
in different voices—Come in under the shadow
of this red rock—Strom Thurmond, Aussie
bartender, Cantonese. HURRY UP PLEASE
ITS TIME. Twenty years later,
I get your news by Facebook update,
three hundred characters or less,
waiting for the Scrovegni to open
in the windy square across from
Donatello’s horse and rider,
dust flecks foaming past fetlocks
and stirrups. You’re someone I slept with
long ago, stopped, pitied, forgot.
Some remember the Berlin Wall,
some remember Vietnam or the first Gulf War,
I don’t remember you except standing
by my chair in the smelly bedroom,
blue sheets undone. You scrub at your head
wet from the shower, drop the towel
on the floor. You ice my earlobe, light a match
to sterilize the needle: Give me a small red new potato,
you say. Kev pierced my ear with a needle and potato.
We were drunk, maybe tripping. Mom was waiting
when I came in, 3am, and saw the blood...You jab.
No pain. A tearing through resistance,
tissues numbly separating. You do your mom:
JesusMaryandJoseph! she screamed. Have mercy!