1494 (The Statue of Snow)

by Sharon Ashton

One winter, when a great deal of snow fell in Florence, [Piero de’ Medici] had him make in his courtyard a statue of snow, which was very beautiful. Giorgio Vasari 

Snow swirls down across the slow grey Arno,
blankets the city, stifles its stench, drifts
between arches and softens the square stone
palazzo, where a sculptor  is carving, 
teasing and half-releasing from crystals,  
the muscles, sinews, veins and bones of an
angel; its genitals so true, boys jeer
and mothers cover the eyes of daughters…

Michelangelo fulfils a duty,
and Piero de Medici takes all
the glory for Florence made more lovely─
until the thaw, when whores alone, pinning
coils of hair by shifting candlelight, pause,
to dream of a man awakened from snow.