The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 17 no. 1


Rosalind Hudis

Vasari's Last Supper


(Florence flood 1966)

They went under on the raft of their table-spread.

Water unmarvelled them
dissolved tone, loaves, left
a milky indecision, like the start of blindness,
spittings of salt, the crust between lashes.

When you drown, black seeps
round the borders of vision, closes over
your scope which shrinks to a pin-hole
(how not to squander
this last glint? Where did the largess
go?) ...

But the body swells,
Vasari's taut outlines, sagging
over the wreath of arms in gesticulation
air-twisted drapes, yellows, madder, carmine
each a code of conduct, 
a floating dialogue of cloth
where Crisis circled through electric folds.

Space-bearing cupolas
clogged with mud, as the retina clogs
with its waste of insight.

There are circles of pain, the one long contraction
in your lungs,
and the pain of banality:
to slip under when the dinner was at its ripest
to seep over into gabble, be
the spill
from the cup, the porridge of His word.