1497 c/o Michael J. Wilson

Bonfire of the Vanities

Girolamo Savonarola holds a torch
he holds a torch against the edge of a canvas
The oil paint cracks and the face of the goddess bends black

The painter watches it catch
The painter watches his name – Botticelli – blister
The painter watches the crowd
wide-eyed and stomping in the Piazza della Signoria

It is a Tuesday in February and on a Saturday in May
Pope Alexander will renounce all of this
will command the flames back to their torches

Then on a Wednesday in May in 1498
Niccolò Machiavelli will watch as naked wrapped in chains hanging from a cross
Girolama Savonarola will be set on fire in this same place

Botticelli stares into the fire on a Tuesday in February
he watches the book covers and paintings and mirrors and clothes
lick against the fire – he feels the pull of the heat a tug to leap to his death
How swift this tide can be