Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 19 . . .

Lady with an Ermine

     by Janice D. Soderling
     art: Leonardo da Vinci,’s “Lady with an Ermine.” 1489-1490. Oil on wood panel. Czartoryski Museum, Kraków, Poland.

          (Cecilia Gallerani Sits for Leonardo in 1483)

Weird is what I’d call him, a cold fish.

Handsome, in truth, but not a man I’d take

to bed. Hanging around the gallows tree,

his silent charcoal pressed to silent paper,

hanging around the morgue, his sharp knives

slicing through the chilly air, sickly-sweet

the smells he pries into, a strange diversion

for a man of thirty. They say he plays the

lyre impeccably, yet has no mood for love.

There was that scandal with the model lad,

of course, hushed up but all Milan has heard.

Sit still, the insolent fellow snarls; I haven’t

moved a thumb. His yellow eyes seem

cruel as my sweet ermine’s own. Brilliant,

but a braggart, says Il Moro, a head chockfull

of dubious designs, small wonder the Medici

let him go. His letter to milord the Duke

related schemes to change the course of war:

new cannons, ships and armored cars, and even,

so he hints now, a machine that lifts and flies.

Indeed! How my neck aches, but be still, the

fellow growls as if he sees my thoughts.  I will

ignore this fool and dwell on sweeter things;

what largess will the Duke grant me when I turn



Janice D. Soderling is an American-born writer and translator whose work appears in international print and online journals. Recent and forthcoming publications include New Walk, Now Culture, Magma Poetry, The Flea, Right Hand Pointing, Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Willows Wept Review, Coe Review, Centrifugal Eye, Alba, Orbis, Literary Mama, Tilt-a-Whirl, Mezzo Cammin, and Phat´itude. She lives in Sweden.

“Lady with an Ermine” first appeared in Blue Unicorn.


© 2010 Janice D. Soderling