Paolo Uccello’s Birds

— Derrick Austin

It must have been about sacrifice,
a parable of sorts within the art. Why else
would Uccello, who so loved birds
as to have sketched their wings,
never paint one? His name meant Humble
Bird. No place for fluttering gloss
in rendering plain our linear perspective.
All recede into mathematical dark.
No space for swallows between lances
in The Battle of San Romano. So much tension
in all that Roman stillness: the banners
of nations and gold-plated weapons free of the gore
vultures will eat when they come
like grief and art from somewhere just outside our vision.

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