Garden of Earthly Delights–Miriam Sagan


my father took me to Spain
to see The Garden of Earthly Delights
hanging on the Prado’s wall,
Hieronymous Bosch had painted
a man and woman
ensconced in a bubble
a strawberry
bigger than a person
a couple—black and white—
embracing in a boat
while in Hell
a knife sliced an ear
(the dreadful cacophony of the damned?)
and in Eden
a youthful God,
from creation
sweet Eve and Adam
while somewhere in this
paradisical chaos
a headless body
is being eaten
while blackbirds
fly out of the anus.
where was I
in all this?
still in high school
but singularly obsessed
with this triptych
and my father
who boycotted Franco
wouldn’t buy
even a jar
of fascist olives
suddenly seized with the belief
that I, his eldest, had to see
this, and the Goyas,
at once.
the airport, bleak and old-fashioned
the hotel
what I remember
is the oddness
of being with my father
in a foreign land
without the rest
of the family
he can speak Spanish, can order
in a restaurant
food he doesn’t
quite approve of,
but that is delicious,
chops, and olive oil and bread.
so long ago
I might be making this up
but I think
we went to dinner and flamenco
in a cavernous restaurant
with a stage floor
and castanets and my father
suddenly transported
because he really loves
everything Spanish
even Mexico
where my mother
refuses to go
because once there
she hallucinated
blood flowing
in the Zocalo.
My father
made a dream come true
his or mine
I don’t know,
if you fold
Bosch’s triptych up
it forms an image of the world
round, translucent
grisaille sphere
containing both paradise and perdition,
like my father—
composed of


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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well ( The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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