Pintura Negra

—After Francisco Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Son"

We follow the porcelain
column of a child's arm

into time's mouth, desperate
Titan, runnel of inked tear

spilling from his eye.
This feels like the beginning

of knowing death. It digs
nails into the small

of a child's back, white-
knuckled grip of a father

arthritic from holding
dead things. The whole scene

weeps a blurred body,
brings a child into the world

embalmed by the deaf. Death
and artist, two skulking

lumps, billow canvas curtain.
These are the ghosts

that move marrow, fingers
that slip the knife point

into a notch of soft bone,
and lift the broken end

to our lips to drink
this dark paint that fills us.


From Reaper’s Milonga (YesYes Books, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Lucian Mattison. Used with the permission of the author.