after Portrait of Paolo Morigia
You’ve posed Morigia as bookish,
as in his seventies but still busy
with his reading and writing.
He’s removed his glasses to study you
while you study him.
He doesn’t see you as Judith
holding a sword and the head
of Holofernes. No, he’s admiring
an eighteen-year-old holding
a brush and palette. He’s confident
you’re painting a miracle.
He’ll admire the crumpling
of his belt-tightened smock
as much as the truthful lines
around his eyes. He’ll admire
how his glasses reflect the room.
He’ll admire how well—and upside down—
you’ve forged his handwriting.
He’s trying to write a poem
to match the portrait. And he’ll admire
how you’ve created a look in his eyes
that expresses the charm of failing.