Questions After Jacopo Bassano’s “Lazarus and the Rich Man”

Are the mottled dogs outside sniffing his sores
or, their napes lowered, asking for the inside

of his ashen hand? Will the empty plate
on the rich man’s table, muffled in embroidery,

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clatter to the cobbled floor? It’s already late—
where is the feast inside? Why does the lady

turn from us toward the interior, showing only
her shoulder, too large for her lovely frame, too wide,

as if she were straining under an unseen weight?
All’s hidden in the open. Why are there no doors?

Why the wind throttling apple trees, at the corner
of sight? Will the manhandled lute, its black stomach

empty and hidden inside the gold shimmer
of catgut strings, be filled, at last, with music?

 

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