2nd Runner-Up, 2009 George Scarbrough Prize in Poetry

Virgin of the Rocks

-after the painting by Leonardo da Vinci

He knows metal-point
cannot capture my skin,
nor red chalk; only

thick, tinted oil.
He releases the buckle,
the endless plait

of hair, gathers
me like water
through a tangled

net.  I watch him
fill the jug with tender
precision, learn

love is delicate
as a knot on a scabbard,
gold- tooled and interwoven.


Irene Latham is a poet and novelist who lives in Birmingham, Alabama.  Her book of poems What Came Before (Negative Capability Press, 2007) earned a 2008 Independent Publisher’s (IPPY) Award and was named Alabama State Poetry Society’s Book of the Year.  She also serves as poetry editor for Birmingham Arts Journal