Van Dyck in Satin

George Szirtes

The first sigh. Or the ninth. Or twentieth.
The sheer fright and feel of it. It is skin
as cloth but finer. It is light as breath
on the eye. It is what used to be called sin
but now, who knows, concupiscence perhaps
might be enough. I am watching young Van Dyck
slather it on in swashes, swoons and slips
of the hand. He knows it’s what they like
and that’s just fine. And doesn’t the soul long
for interludes like this? His did, and does.
It’s the autumn of the body dressed as spring,
all thrust and petal, the whole flower on display
at once, the future of what never was,
shudder and burst of night becoming day.