Urbino Afternoon: The Della Francesca
Poem By Peggy Aylsworth
Italian hills expected but withheld beyond
the trees. Sky, meagre, ungenerous day
shed impossible light.
had no room for mercy under
the rigid portico. What did
we wish for before we looked?
We had come so far, unprepared.
And he perpetually ready
for the next flagellation.
His mother could not
have witnessed this vicious white,
this glacial blue. His fixed calm,
a legacy. She grieves...elsewhere.
The absence of sorrow here
falls, fails on the cold tiles,
enclosed by commanding columns.
Heroics, in gold, pointing to heaven
Small, but the stairway
in the background a source of light.
Quiet, did he hear what he could
The boy begging
in the piazza hot with pigeons,
the day taken to yellow and soft wind.
Ripe melon and gelato cooled the surface.
We gave coins, the currency of affaristi
He vanished through the small crowd,
chased or called.
We stood, wanting to go back,
longing to dwell in fierce astonishment.
The artist had placed three men in front
on the right, conversing. More than their
impeccable persona...the careful avoidance of eyes.
What is invested in hands, in stance.
Do they notice? True, the one in the hat,
the dark beard, even the angle of the head
reminds us, they are foreground, he is background.
Awnings, racks of postcards
the thick Urbino afternoon, pierced
unclouded sky. Not the imposing
palazzo, exact as the white portico.
He. Set back, bound flesh stung to insult.
It came like bells. Sudden. Direct.
Lifting above the birds. His eyes
fully on the face of the bulky man
with the whip.