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The Sistine Gaze: I too begin with scaffolding by Seamus Cashman

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Movement 28 - Where presence infinitely sits

Cashman, Seamus

233

Time is a growing past: there is no now. Beauty is resolved 
and we verify our attachment to the clay time made, 
the clay man kneaded, coloured, picked and pointed, 
brushed and scuffed across this monument to fable,
rebinding dialogues and grammars in our own skins, 
re-telling, for centuries of stray watchers, disciplinarians 
and popinjays,
the truths reached and sliced open clean as a breakfast 
apple, unafraid to see the core, the marinade.

234

Strip away your name.
Strip away your face. 
Strip away your voice, 
each piece of clothing, 
those elegant shoes. 
Strip every detail from your skin, 
strip back 
each muscle to the bone, 
each bone to marrow. 
What then?  
                               Nothing left to quantify. 
Are you, too, absent, or  is absence 
                               where your presence infinitely sits 
in contemplation?
Only the remnants of crucifix—trunk, crossbar, nails and
twisted thorn-branch in the distance.
Embodied on high where the eye sites it – worshipful and 
beautiful – the fulcrum, the measure, the point – the 
who-is-not who is. —Swear.

235

As he leaned his body back – so near to the void beneath 
his scaffolding,
the figure he was painting stirred before him. The porcelain
delicacy of skin, the intense ochre lurking underneath 
blue eyes,
her bare waist and naked loins, mirroring his lustre of 
reflection.

236

He knew the richness, knew the risk, the courage and the 
pain – but lifted the flatness
from each pigment with his brushes. She was nobility, 
she was charm, strength,
and meditation. As he acted to his thought, she birthed 
for her maker.
Inevitable entanglements of her belief and his gave art 
and reason much to do.

237

His brushes spread the iridescent flesh; and its absorption 
warmed her blood
and freshened up the morning. The whites that overlay 
her arms and thighs, burnished skin
as on polished marbled virgins, and filled the open sky 
of lapis lazuli 
with the wonder of humanity, and with jealousy and fear.

238

Below the gaping mouths of hell are new 
caves to wander in 
the night, awaiting 
shipments of pigmented souls
embodied in 
the ghastly smiles of Charon’s phantom 
men, rejects of holiness, purchased 
at markets in Sodom or Gomorrah; 
—our visions do not hesitate to spin 
the wheels of luck and walk away. 
We are alone and all our smiles will not 
undo the shackle we so readily pass on; 
—our sanctity is rich in poisoned pollinates 
and cross-legged stools; one riddle 
answers all but leaves 
the blind dancing on scaffolds.



 

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