Michelangelo’s Late Drawings

Nearly blind, it’s all behind him now.
Four scaffolded years risking a fall
like Adam’s and the wrath of Julius
who struck him once for being slow.
Gone, the strength for travertine, all the figures
he could loosen have been freed,
and he’s burned his studies, hundreds of them,
let them go, those young men twisting
in their mighty attitudes, bodies floating heavenwards
in specks of white. So much done, and yet he works
all night sometimes, light pooling
from the candle in his makeshift crown,
a stick of graphite as he fills what’s left of time,
Love crucified, dying and living in the line.