LUCAS CRANACH'S ADAM AND EVE
By ZoŽ Gabriel
I lean in, on tiptoe,
to take in, breathe in, the cracked paint
like veins under the skin,
the curve of Eve's belly, her soft peasant face,
the other apple she coyly holds
behind her back yet in plain sight,
Adam's unthreatening leanness,
his artisan's face,
the branch he holds just in case,
their feet I want to caress,
the deer (blank then as now), the lion
sharpening his claws just out of sight
behind the bushes, the snake
mildly curious rather than malicious,
the sourceless light of divine presence
which casts no shadows
into this scene of play-pretend,
of masks held in readiness.
I lean in, and the museum guard
clears his throat, a discreet
intake of breath, thickening the air
with suspicion like starch.
I could plead that I wasn't
really going to lunge at the painting
as into a zealously hoped-for embrace,
that it's all just pretend,
but we all four know better.
AT THE VAN GOGH MUSEUM, AMSTERDAM
By ZoŽ Gabriel
The grim, unselfconscious Dutch peasant
is sister of chin and nose
to the gaudy yet world-weary La Mousme,
Martha to her Mary, Olga to her Masha.
Those early crows -
shy daubs of black on brown or gray,
fledgling to erupt with a screech
in the skies of Provence. A table
in a Parisian cafť, glossy
and deceptive as an ice rink,
the tangible world never what it seems.
Endgame: the sun a supernova
possessing the sky, turning it to bronze,
pears and lemons
that radiate light, dissolve
the edge between illusion and frame.
Those last hasty landscapes:
too much to define,
just enough time to layer on hints
before night falls.
And the sunflowers:
clichť made shuddering breath,
undiminished by years of lip-service,
startling, furry with paint,
thickness you want to sink your teeth into,
read it with your fingers like Braille.
ZoŽ Gabriel's poems have appeared in Eclectica, Abyss & Apex, The Centrifugal Eye, The Rose & Thorn, Oysters & Chocolate, Tales of the Talisman, Illumen, Word Riot, The Commonline Project, Thieves Jargon, GlassFire Magazine, Grasslimb, Poetry Midwest, Southern Ocean Review, Salt River Review, Locust Magazine, Unlikely Stories, AntiMuse and Cadenza; she has work forthcoming in Goblin Fruit, Tales of the Unanticipated and Weird Tales. ZoŽ dyes her hair, but is naturally tall. She loves books, languages, spicy food and colorful socks.