Early Afternoon, Having Just Left the Chapel of San Francesco

Radiant the delayed calmness,
—Do you feel it, I said. —Yes, you said,

of what only each can know,
kernel of radiance, the globo terrestre

of a water drop, not the passing adaptations
of canonical light, but seconds stilled—

our hearts beating through the moments—centuries
of the next tick of a watch relieved,

a world enough in time to imagine
Piero walk to work across cobblestones

toward a completion, his close attention
to sunlight passing through shadows

owned by the sharp angles of buildings,
sunrays warming what they touch. 
Piero, first a painter, is not a monk. 
He will make what welcomes light

a source of light: slow the day
he will add lucent black wings

to white feathers of the magpie
ever alight on a roof-edge.

I found a feather on a stone, feather I thought
from the angel’s wing, that arc of light

held aloft in descent, shared with us
and Constantine in his dream. 

I think of a white egret returning home near
the high creek, through unwavering

evening light, to sleep, sleep at Sansepolcro,
where we were headed in a rental car.


Copyright © 2014 by James Brasfield. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“My son Will (a painter) and I were on the ‘trail’ of Piero della Francesca: Perugia, Arezzo, Sansepolcro, and Monterchi. Very soon after we stepped from the chapel in Arrezzo, the experience described in the opening lines of the poem occurred. The poem explores the intersection of circumstances simultaneously in time and outside of time: the eye feels what it sees.”
James Brasfield