Pulling Down the Sky (the Sistene Chapel) by Matt Donovan

Pulling Down the Sky

(the Sistene Chapel)

Matt Donovan

Piece by piece the sky was hacked, the star-flung heaven made years before,

its sheen of gold & ultramarine. And the firmament turned to pigmented dust

that caked & stained their forearms & necks & rained down in wide, benedictory arcs

into the space below. It grew dark, of course, & they worked torch-lit

& a man said said plaster, bucket. A man said scaffold, whore. And the hammers

mauling the sky from that height swallowed up the sounds from below:

a robed boy scurrying from the candles, the sunset vesper thrum.

And when they rested, they saw the ruin they had made & knew what was needed

would be done. To pull down the entire barrel vault blue, each starred width

of heaven. To prepare the space where they sky had been for, yes, a god

& the shapes of god. Of cloth, a mule, a knuckle. An axe, a bowl, some bread.

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