Looking at Medieval Art

Richie Hofmann


I’m by myself again, looking at bright green tapestries,
a painted box in which was kept
a human heart. A skeleton with a long, pointed pole
piercing the ribs of a dying man.
I lunch alone on chunks of venison. The Black Death
feels distant, like you.
The medieval streets have been widened by
modern instruments of pain.
I look for a stranger with whom
to act out the gamut of jealousy, obsession, control—
until his body, like a soul, slips out from mine.

Richie Hofmann is the author of Second Empire (2015). He is currently Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University.  

Image: Head of a Cleric from a Tomb Effigy, 1450-1460, France. Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 47.42.