A Painting of Saint Agnes

A Painting of Saint Agnes

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A Painting of Saint Agnes

No one caught the beauty that went before
and after you: it fed the air like light,
invisible, life-giving. And your life,
it faded into darkness too, as might

a martyr unredeemed by others' faith.
And into view a painting of Saint Agnes
shimmers; she shares the small coals of your eyes,
that knack of distant gazing, as if kindness

was an amber where the passing life was held.
No surprise then that a dark glance can unman me
in corridor, on canvas; or those full

centuries the Church calls true and plenty
falls to a blank, when an unknown hand can scald
with paint and pain; and I, forever twenty.