The easel of Mantegna

The easel of Mantegna

Empty-armed, like a soldier,
waiting for the deposition
still to happen, watching

as the rough skin is stretched
across the squat square ribs
and stapled, scraped

with a palette-knife, before
the morbid undertaking
of the gesso and the paint.

Or say instead, you always
were inclined to play
an active role in this,

our cruellest fiction: empty-
angled and pristine save
where you were brushed

with the death and cleansed
with the dizzy stench of spirit.
You are the awkward ladder,

the hallowed steps, the endless
air forever drifting through
the thin rafters of an unroofed

steeple - on or in or out of
whom the wide sound
of resurrection still remains

for us a thing we listen for
in silence:
untolled, unrunged.


from A Lens in the Palm (Carcanet, 2008), © Kelly Grovier 2008, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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1The shed

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2The stars

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3The easel of Mantegna

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4The ancient of days

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5Rodin's Balzac

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6Camping Out

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7Rain, Steam and Speed

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8Tens and eight

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9The lens

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10The needle

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11Ghosting

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12Lost

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13The lost room

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14The recipe

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15Table Saw

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16Furcula

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17Lacewing

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18St Augustine's Abbey

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19Conversions

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20The astrologers

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21The Book of Clues

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22Giftings

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23Icon

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24A spider in Trinity College Chapel

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25Fra Angelico

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26Les Parapluies

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27The triple tree

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28Of thought - the train

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29Mincing Words

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30There

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31'Nor even yet quite relinquish'

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32The Consolation of Philosophy

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33The frequency

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34Metaphysics

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35Spinnings

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36Tractatus

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37The night is like a dinosaur

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38Via negativa

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39April Morning

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40The meadow

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41Palms

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42Wan Hu's flying chair

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43Murmuration

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44Söl

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45Hurricane Alley

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46The Ruined Statue of a Saint

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47Pancho Villa

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