• By Linda Ann Strang

Caravaggio: Absolution


For W.


My fingertips of death

in the V of your neck,


I’m the murmuring penumbra

slipping down to your chest.


Man in the shadow

valley of lily,


lily in the cavity

of the night made man –


what Judith’s been fashioned

through our horsehair deeds,


the handholds and hot blood

of your nameless needs.


Ecce you, outside

the circle of every acolyte


candle that cries on the edge

of chiaroscuro.


Holofernes and knife,

young, sick, Bacchus,


sup of Emmaus,

you are always beside me


(wine spilt on the thighs

of Goliath and Christ).


Any number of sparrows,

turn to doves at this sleight.


Whoever casts the first shadow

also casts the first light.


Linda Ann Strang is the author of Wedding Underwear for Mermaids. Star Reverse, her second poetry collection, will be published by Dryad Press in March 2022. Linda lives in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and she teaches at Nelson Mandela University. Her poems and short stories have been published internationally.