Fra Angelico’s Agony in the Garden

December 3, 2020 | < 1
D.S. Martin

A medieval style painting of two people sitting beside each other. They both have halos, one is praying and one is holding a book

I have stood on the hillside Fra Angelico depicts
where the gnarled roots of ancient olive trees
still intertwine & grow from the roots of even older trees
where twisted trunks & bent branches
suggest an endured agony of their own
where the weary disciples slept as Christ wept
on the hillside above Jerusalem
& the fresco shows Martha & Mary as they obey
Christ’s command to watch & pray even though
it hadn’t been addressed to them

Holy Guido would have known olive groves
from the hillsides of Italy & devotion
which he represents through these sisters
But as I leaned against the fence that prevents
tourists from scratching their initials into olivewood
the only masterpiece I considered
knowing how short my perceptions fall
is the scene itself Its eternal significance
stirred in my mind brimming behind
my dark glasses




D.S. Martin

D.S. Martin is Poet-in-Residence at McMaster Divinity College, the Series Editor for the Poiema Poetry Series, the editor behind three poetry anthologies, and author of four poetry collections—the most recent of which is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). He and his wife Gloria have two sons, one of whom is an Alliance pastor.

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