Affettuoso (After Caravaggio)

Watcher –

this, your face

pink-cheeked with abandon.

This your hidden, thrumming hand.

This, your wine-shadowed longing

draped over his shoulders,

laid flush against the petal

white expanse of his chest –

penetrable. Press it

and he’ll bruise. Paint it

and you’ll wound him beyond repair.

Render the translucent skin

of his throat in pigment,

apple flesh, immutable.

You have left so many places

to sink your teeth. Consecrate

his vulnerability in the sanctum

of memory. Dust,

not age, will pool in the hollow

of his clavicle, that place

where you once rested

your callous hands,

your long fingers

drawing him closer, until

you could feel the tentative heat

of his breath against your chin,

damp and reaching, a mouth

with no mouth, no tongue to speak.

You paint this too –

his lips parted, exhaling

in fevered rose forever.

You get the eyes wrong.

You always do.

There they are – colorless,

your own, dull and aching,

three strokes of melancholy

peering out from

the mask of his face.

It is hard to catch your looking

once it has gotten away.

Sofia Montrone is a Columbia College freshman and member of The Columbia Review editorial board. She would like to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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