Röttgen Pietà

by Andy Nicole Bowers
               after Monica Youn
Michelangelo had it wrong—his figures chilled,
embalmed as in a cloche of their own milk-light:
her face a blank, a frozen moon the eye skates
without hitching—and he is sleeping, merely,
safe, a child carried to bed. No, grief does not buff
the flesh to gentle resignation, but is this savage
chisel in a primitive’s cramped hand. How else
explain what reaches out to grip me by the throat
so that I stand arrested and accused by what I see—
Christ’s body wrenched beyond repair, a botch
of teeming wounds, all ribcage, and such a Mary—
snarling like a fox caught in a leg-hold—whose gaze
extracts a nauseous prayer and never will forgive me.