Adam’s Notebook
Published in

Adam’s Notebook

Diagnosing Mona Lisa

A jaundiced lady sitting in a chair
From which she cannot rise: a solitaire
Whose eyes are wry with consummations missed
As left and right horizon-lines resist
Attempts to reconcile them. Doc: the answer?
Jaundice suggests a pancreatic cancer
Or maybe hepatitis or cirrhosis
All three address the puzzle she still poses —
Sickness and its consolations, above
The simpler pleasures of erotic love
(For this still smiling woman, cryptic-faced,
Sits purely still, intemerately chaste:
Her image makes no randy person wonder
‘What would it be like, fucking Gioconda?’)
Instead she distances herself, and says
‘Beauty is death, death beauty: all my days
Are gone and buried under Leo’s art
You can’t win my no longer beating heart.’
The end of all disease is on her brow,
And death being death, there’s no more living now.



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Adam Roberts

Adam Roberts

Writer and academic. London-adjacent.