noli me tangere
that the seraphim’s wing
like the paper fan or gilded flake
– all with lapis imbricate –
the old masters put to paint
on dim and shallow boards.
neither are they feathered
however they’re shown –
with baby down or bristling barb
soapstone points of Crivelli’s carving,
or the chubby stubs of Michelangelo.
they are nothing fair or slight
they are not – wholly – for flight.
ecstatic isaiah moans, struck dumb
down prone, lifts eyes, heart
(body: chilled still, too still to stand)
to those seraphim
around the throne –
with two wings each they fly
but with the other four, protect them
from seeing and being seen
shield their shale feet, frail &
shutter their soft eyes from searing
this is no ceremony,
nor is God’s pomp pretended –
HE blinds like a sun unsheathed
& burns as the naked star –
but here all saying ceases.
for how can words & pretty paint find
their way to walk this path
where even angels are blind?