Ship of Fools: Surviving Fragment of Triptych

<i>Ship of Fools:</i> Surviving Fragment of Triptych
Detail from The Ship of Fools, from Wikimedia Commons.

(Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1490-1500)

and what remains of us? A plateful of cherries

spilled, half-eaten, a breast forgotten, dangling

from a torn bodice, men bellowing drunk

nuns plucking lutes, blind to children

begging naked in the water and

the fool we raised on high to guide

our leaking vessel, canvas torn, paint

cracked with age or by his rage—prophet

to some, profit to others, gold soured

orange, body bloated, brain shrunken

tongue kissing his reflection and each

passing cloud, leading us wherever we

allow, as he grabs a nipple here,

a crotch there, points his tiny fingers

laughing at her and her and her

and me, just women—

mast sagging, rocks ahead,

the deck tipping, men laughing

as I cry “Stop!”—what a joke

and me the fool

to think anyone can see

the ocean reaching up, thirsty—  




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