Dan Brady


Molly Sees Saturn Devouring His Sons

Molly has stars tucked under her arm
in blue tattoo ink, hidden under shirt sleeves.
She tells me about the walls of Goya's house.

Historians call them his black paintings, Molly says.
She calls it his best. Saturn Devouring His Sons
is her favorite—ferocious, brown, eyes wide, raging.

Goya never intended anyone to see them, she tells me,
he thought he'd die surrounded by his creation, his darkness.
She can't stop looking at them. They speak to her

with a voice she only hears when she's praying, alone,
for someone else's demise. They reflect on the inside
of her eyelids, she says. There are no words for it,

only images. Unspeakable ones. Maybe, she says,
their power comes from the privacy, like the way we think about
virginity or death. It's frightening. You really should see them,

she says, but I don't want to see them, or Spain, or anything else,
just those stars Molly has hidden and the darkest backdrop
against which they shine—a black painting made in blue.

So I tell her I'm afraid of flying, of being held captive
by all that space. Especially at night, when the city lights
shimmer like stars, and the sky, the blackest sea.

Dan Brady is the poetry editor of Barrelhouse and the former editor of American Poet, the journal of the Academy of American Poets. He works in Washington, DC as an arts administrator.


Published in Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 2009.