This is a reworked version of an older poem I wrote after seeing this painting – by Bartolo di Fredi.
This is what I ask you to imagine:
The moment it begins beneath the object of her demise,
rising from her lover, separation into perfection.
The first question arises, the ripeness of the fruit is its answer.
Wandering the fields, hands brushing the tips of tall grass,
naming things, the fullness on the limb begging questions.
Fruit on the ground, fruit on the limb,
truth, freedom, wait to be grasped.
Yearning interlaces with the tedium of useless rain.
As their bodies brown beneath the revealing sun
the secret question draws him deeper into her embrace
deep within her
where there is a question about what perfection does to the soul.
He lifts her in his arms and discovers the unbearable lightness of her body
he names it desire.
But the question still hangs in the air and together they name it doubt,
its counterweight they name prayer.
Once again he lifts her, to the fruit on the limb,
an end to doubt
an answer to prayer
the end of perfection
the beginning of shame
the discovery of pleasure
a return to flesh as if from a ghostly existence.
Perfection exposed to error is a new reason to seek out light.
With the shadow of imperfection across their eyes the sun reveals answers,
the moon shines on secrets in the night.
The fields take on new meaning. Softness hardens to labor.
Independence grows from furrowed ground, new life hard won from pain.
Yearning now interlaces with the serendipity of rain, doubt and prayer.
When the heavens open, she stretches out her arms
and he drinks with sweet release from the cup of her calloused hands.