The nudity of it is delicious and cool,
like an iced pear sitting on a plate.
Alone in this room of ruffs and collars,
it is saying how good it feels to be a neck,
to have the same number of vertebrae
as a giraffe, the same grace as a swan,
and since it looks like a delicious fruit,
it invites appetite, a slight salivation
in the viewer’s mouth, or else
as happens in my case, a sudden urge
to kiss its nape, as though it is a photo
of my lover rather than the portrait
of Sir Thomas Wyatt, painted just a year
before he lost his head and therefore
made this neck, still perfect in its seven
vertebrae and in the carrying of blood,
surperfluous, a limb that might as well
be clothed or not exist at all.
Except, it is so beautifully presented here,
that even if there were no head attached,
I’m sure it would continue to draw eyes
just for itself and not its purposes.
From Ambit 169, 2002.