The second violin is a beautiful woman, Korean,
in a skin tight black dress, whose entire
body expresses every note she plays
but the real action, alas, is in the square
suit named Pigeon, the first violin.
The passion that pours from him leaves
him looking unmoved, untouched. His thin
face is pinched into a dead smile while she heaves
and lunges through her dull repeats, repeats.
How contained this storm is, in its little crock.
But this crock contains, however, seven oceans
and all the continents except ice-locked
Antarctica, with its penguins, its fabulous narwhal,
its dull walrus, all deplorably unmusical.
At the Frick
His eyes are narrowed not to miss a cue
for what to say that Henry wants to hear—
the ingratiating, serviceable face,
the richly furred language of the body
open and welcoming—Thomas Cromwell
by Holbein. Then Holbein’s Thomas More
with a steady, penetrating glance, mouth
set in a skeptical turn, all wariness,
having a self to possess, possessing it.
Both men painted from life, alive
in the same room again, in New York:
More resisting the King, Cromwell saying
(no euphemisms, no disguises)
just what the King wants: Kill More.