Peter Paul Rubens, 1618         8’0” X 6’10”                                                                               Philadelphia Museum of Art                                                                                     

Only five, my eyes are fixed on the eagle –
its beak tearing guts and blood   
from this naked Titan, sprawled
on rocks, chained at the wrists.  Back
and forth from the bloody beak to the giant
talons gripping the poor man’s head,
fear keeps me paralyzed in place.  

Compelled to revisit Prometheus
with each family pilgrimage, I wrongly
imagine that this horror will shrink in size 
as I grow.  But the painting is huge
and hung low, the bird enormous,
large as the man, executing his gory task
in the lower half, smack before your eyes.  

Stunned I remain, year after year,
silently pleading to be unchained
from Zeus’ rage, praying for a parent,
a guard, anyone, to do what I cannot –
pry me from my spot, turn me
to the other side of the room
where the solace of angels awaits.