The opening gambit of winter, the north under siege,
south under zigzag weather,
goiters of iodized clouds uglifying the horizon . . .

Where were the early painters of landscape,
touching in faint cloudlands out an unglassed window,
the scene the more crowded by the fleshy merchant

and pregnant wife swelling the foreground?
In Giorgione, background took the field,
the glaring romance of halogen and incandescence.

When you stand naked in the shower,
I catch that glint in the black eye of the Renaissance,
your belly rounded like some fifteenth-century Eve.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 37 Number 5, on page 31
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