Living Hands

–on meeting Benjamin Haydon


The artist breathes a divine
varnish, transfigures a body
to burn like sun on new snow.
So like grass to the rain I make him
my god, beg him to fall down
beside me, show me what colors
his hands invent. How everything

disappoints from a lesser
vantage: tempera on wood,
more viscous than it sounds,
the painting’s insistence on its own
smallness, and the artist’s pale body,
slight veins shadowing his hands.


Hannah Dow
University of Southern Mississippi

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