"The Fly on Cardinal Bandinello Sauli's Left Knee" by Regina O' Melveny

from the painting Cardinal Bandinello Sauli,

His Secretary, and Two Geographers

by Sebastiano del Piombo


Invisible at first it springs to the eye, fly that sops the Cardinal’s paper-white pleats

for a spot of olive oil or anchovy scale or sweat seeping down from the holy thigh, speck

in the pudding, flaw in god’s little game of punto - no points unless you sweep the table clean.

Sebastiano, keeper of the Papal seal played at this long before physicist Genzel

in the dim auditorium projected a chart: Lifetime of Dark Mass Concentration

and imaged black hole Sgr-A* innermost region of the Milky Way where

the peak of absolute velocity dispersion indicates a cusp or accretion of matter

like the mole on the underside of my breast that I never see but feel pulled to touch

the spot my lover kisses, beauty and blemish

like the elegant fly whose palps sponge both sweet and foul.


Meanwhile the geographers exhibit portolanos with every confidence,

terra incognita notwithstanding. The fly sweeps the wands of its antennae

at the universe and listens, listen. The New World is being discovered.

A black hole jitters in space. Cells are growing darkly beyond their boundaries.

Afterwards, alone in the room of my hotel in the dark that is not an Italian darkness,

hierarchies of